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You’re likely doing it wrong, especially during winter

The two-second rule – that “one-one thousand,” “two-one thousand” counting test all of us learned in driver education – to gauge space between us and the car in front likely is not enough, according to the car gurus at Smart Motorist. Two seconds, they say, may be OK for optimal conditions; however, three seconds is better. And this time of year, when you’re faced with low visibility and wet surfaces? Allow six seconds for moderate rain. If the rain turns heavy or it’s snowing? Make it nine.

To do the seconds test, watch as the car in front of you passes a fixed object like a road sign. Then count to see how many seconds it takes you to reach the same place. If you reach the sign before you’ve finished saying “three-one thousand,” you’re too close. While the seconds rule is easy to remember, it can be harder to apply, especially on urban streets or the freeway when a generous break between cars quickly gets filled by a merging driver. Still, it’s a good way to stay mindful about leaving adequate stopping distance.

Northwesterners, more than most, could stand to add a few extra seconds between cars. Washington was ranked as the fifth-worst state in the nation for tailgating, based on tailgating-citation data from Insurify, with 20.1 citations per 10,000 drivers. Oregon pegged at No. 8 with 12.6 citations. And the top tailgaters of all? Idahoans with 33.3 citations. Nationally, the average is 8.9.

Washington law doesn’t spell out a specific distance that must be maintained between cars (calling, instead for “reasonable and prudent” distance). Oregon’s phrasing is similar.  

Frequent tailgating is correlated with aggressive driving. A PEMCO Northwest Poll revealed that drivers acknowledged driving more aggressively than they did four years earlier, but they felt that fellow motorists engaged in rude or dangerous driving even more often. You can check out full Poll results here.

Tailgating is among the top behaviors that lead to road rage. The others include driving too slowly in the left lane, meek merging, cutting off other drivers during lane changes, blocking intersections after the light changes and honking or gesturing.

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Source: PEMCO Insurance

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