How many feet should you leave between cars when driving?

I’m a few months out from my driving test and I’m a little worried about passing. I know that part of the test will be driving in a neighborhood and part will be on the highway. How many feet should I leave between me and the cars in front of me?

Samuel Todd · Updated on
Reviewed by Shannon Martin, Licensed Insurance Agent.
With your thorough research, you’ll do an awesome job on your driving test! As a general rule, you’ll want to leave about three seconds of space between you and the driver in front of you—if you’re going 55 mph on a highway, that works out to roughly 250 feet (16 car lengths).
The exact amount of distance you should leave depends on your speed and the weather conditions. Here’s a run-down of each factor:
  • Speed: If you’re only going 25 mph in a neighborhood, you should be safe to stop in two seconds of space, which is about 75 feet (five car lengths). But if you’re roaring down the highway at 70 mph, you’ll need between three and four seconds to stop—that’s roughly 300 feet (20 car lengths).
  • Weather conditions: If the roads are rain-slicked or icy, you’ll need to slow down and leave plenty of room on the streets. The gap should be twice as high in rain, five times as high on snow-packed roads, and ten times as high on ice.
And there you have it! Just remember to leave plenty of space on the highway and adjust your driving speed to the weather, and you should do great on your driving test.
Once you’ve aced that driving test, you’ll need insurance for your car.
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