Mastering The 'Two Second' Rule - A Beginner's Guide

One of the most important safety lessons that beginning drivers can learn is what's known as the 'Two Second Rule'.  But what is the 'Two Second Rule' and how do you apply it?  Read on for a beginner's guide.

What it is

When you are driving on the road, one of the trickiest things to learn is how to keep the correct distance away from the vehicle in front of you, relative to the speed you are travelling at.  If you drive too close, you risk a collision if the car in front stops or turns unexpectedly and you can't brake in time.  If you drive too close ('tailgate') during your driving test, you will certainly fail.

The Highway Code gives details of the correct stopping distance for your speed and the prevailing road conditions, but this can be difficult to remember when you're actually out there driving.  That's where the 'Two Second Rule' comes into play. 

The 'Two Second Rule' states that you should remain at least two seconds away from the rear of the vehicle travelling in front of you, regardless of your speed.  This will ensure that you will be at least one car's length per five mph away from the car in front, allowing adequate stopping time.  For example, if you are travelling at 30 mph, you should be approximately 15 car lengths behind the leading vehicle, giving you ample time to stop safely if you need to.

Note that in wet or icy conditions, the two second allowance should be doubled to four seconds to give you more braking distance.

How to calculate it

As you drive along, allow the car in front of you to go past a fixed point, for example a lamp post.  When the car's tail lights line up with the object you've chosen, you'll need to count up to two seconds.  If your car passes the fixed point before you finish counting, you are too close, and you'll need to increase the distance between you and the car in front.

The 'Rule' also helps to avoid accidents where a car that is following too close behind you can't stop in time if you brake sharply.  The generous stopping distance you've left for yourself will also mean that the fool who is tailgating you should be able to stop safely too!

Learning to apply the 'Two Second Rule' is extremely important if you are to keep the correct stopping distance between you and the vehicle in front.  You can be sure that your driving test examiner will be checking to see that you observe the 'Rule' and learning to use it habitually now will go a long way towards helping you to pass your test, as well as making you a safer driver. Taking beginner driver lessons will help ensure you are ready to become a fully licensed driver.