banner ad big learner relay

The Two Second Rule

July 2, 20140 Comments

Video Transcription

I thought that for this week’s blog I would talk about stopping distances, the two second rule and four second rule in the rain. I am sure we all teach our learner drivers the two second rule and how important it is to keep that distance between us and the car in front in case the car in front does something untoward or suddenly changes direction without indicating, brakes hard for a hazard etc.

So what I tend to do with the two second rule is refer to it as a four second rule which is nothing to do with the conditions being wet. I tend to think of us as the jam in the sandwich. By this I mean that if we are the car in the middle and there is a car in front that we are keeping two seconds between us – only a fool breaks the two second rule. If there is a car behind us that is say, only keeping a distance of one second from us then I would increase the distance between us and the car in front to three seconds. This increases our ability to slow down slower and therefore, gives the car behind the ability to slow down slower and is less likely to hit us. So here we are the jam in the sandwich. The vehicle in front and the vehicle behind are the bread.

We cannot control the vehicle behind but we can increase our gap between us and the vehicle in front so we’ve got more time to slow down. We could then turn in that we’re the car at the back of the queue so there are two cars in front of us. If the car immediately in front of us is close to the car in front of him then I want to be four seconds away from the car first car. So basically the four seconds is from the car in front, one in the middle and then the car at the back and we are somewhere in there.

I will give you some examples. So if I am in the car at the back of the three vehicles and the two in front are close to each other I will be at least 3 seconds behind the one in front of me so if they brake hard I will have plenty of time to react safely. If I am in the car at the front and have two cars behind me that are driving very closely to each other and close to me and there is a fourth car in front of me I will increase my gap to maybe four or five seconds just to make sure I have got plenty of time to stop.

So I am basically adjusting my distance between me and the car in front depending on what is going on around me. So it is not just how close you are to the car in front it could be the closeness of the two cars behind to each other, or the closeness of the two or more cars in front of me to each other.

If I was on a 60mph road and I had four or five cars in front of me all about a second from each other I might even have seven, eight or nine seconds between me and the car immediately in front of me so I have plenty of time as they are all going to be using each others’ stopping distance and two second rules, which isn’t going to work. I need to add those seconds that they are not using into my seconds. The closer they are to each other the further back I am going to be.

It is really important to teach that to learners because I feel that if we do teach this they then understand why they need to be checking their mirrors for someone behind and educate them as to what to do if someone is close behind them by increasing the gap in front or even just slightly come of the power but maintain the same speed. This will just give them more time to react. They may want to even cover the brake if things start to happen earlier. They might want to start reacting earlier than they would normally because the earlier you react the less you have to react. So by putting these things into our teaching it makes more of an understanding of why we use mirrors and what to do in different situations. This also helps with the mirror, signal, manoeuvre routine.

Hopefully this has been helpful.

Filed in: Blaines BlogTeaching Learners
Tagged with:

About the Author ()

Blaine Walsh is the owner of, has been a driving instructor trainer for 15 years and a driving instructor for over 20 years. When he first qualified Blaine admits his was not a very good instructor, became disillusioned, was not retaining pupils and not making any money, so he quit full time teaching. After spending time self-reflecting, he had a light bulb moment and realised that he needed to put more explanation, effort and enthusiasm into teaching learners. Since then he has not looked back and is now regarded as one of the top trainers in the country.

Back to Top

Hide me
Sign up below to join our eNewsletter
Name: Email:
Show me