The SGI Traffic Safety Spotlight for the month of June is on safe following distances (count your Mississippis), said Tyler McMurchy, SGI’s manager of media relations.

“We’re focusing on following distance and reminding drivers of the three-second rule, which will help you leave enough space between your vehicle and the one in front of you,” McMurchy told Discover Moose Jaw News.

“When we’re talking about speed, it’s a rule that works at any speed, whether you’re on the highway or driving in the city. If the road conditions warrant, you might want to extend that, as well,” McMurchy explained.

“We talked about it a lot during the winter, but you know, even in the summer, when you’re looking at things like heavy rainfall, slippery road conditions, maybe poor visibility due to fog, those are circumstances where you might want to extend that following distance to five or six seconds.”

Shay Shpak, director of driver examination services at SGI, said that even the most focused drivers need enough reaction time to safely respond to unexpected events.

“Since the distance you need to stop increases as your speed increases, using the amount of time it takes to reach the car in front of you is more useful than a distance,” Shpak explained.

“Three seconds gives a focused driver enough time under ideal conditions to safely avoid a collision if the vehicle in front of them stops suddenly.”

Establishing a three-second following distance starts by choosing a non-moving object on or near the road. This could be a sign, a line painted on the road, or even a pothole. When the car in front of you passes the object, start counting off the seconds that pass before you reach the same object.

Drivers should be able to count at least three Mississippis — if the time between the vehicles is less, there will not be enough time to safely react if needed.

When conditions are less than perfect – like low visibility, driving on wet pavement or loose gravel or hauling a heavy load – increase your following distance to six seconds or more. This will give you more time to react and more room to move or stop if there isn’t ideal traction on the road.

SGI is asking all Saskatchewan drivers to focus on ways they can make our roads safer. While leaving room for other drivers, be alert for other road users. Roadside construction workersemergency workerspedestrianscyclistsmotorcyclists and farmers all use our roads and want to get home safely the same way you do. Slow down and give them space.