Fleet Safety

How Space Cushions Are Calculated While Driving

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You likely had a question about space cushions on your driver’s test. A space cushion is the distance you keep between your car and the car in front of you, so you can easily maneuver in any situation. In perfect conditions with normal-sized vehicles (not semi-trucks or trailers), a space cushion of about 3 seconds is ideal. You may wonder how to calculate a space cushion and how you can maintain your space cushion in various situations. Let’s explore the answers to both questions. 

What is the Ideal Space Cushion?

We spoke earlier about the space cushion in perfect conditions– 3 seconds. However, there are other scenarios where a larger space cushion might be necessary. For example, in inclement weather, you will want to keep about 4 or 5 seconds between yourself and the car in front of you. For a semi-truck, you might also need a following distance of 4 or 5 seconds. Assess the situation around you and your vehicle’s needs when deciding your following distance. 

How to Calculate a Space Cushion

You’ve seen that space cushions are measured in seconds. More specifically, space cushions are measured by how many seconds there are between when the vehicle in front of you passes an object and when you pass that same object. 

To determine your space cushion, select a parked car or an object on the side of the road. When the vehicle in front of you passes that object, begin counting seconds until you pass it. You should be able to count to 3 in perfect conditions or 4-5 when conditions are less than ideal. 

Space Cushion Tips

When considering your space cushion, there are a few things you should know. 

The most common time a space cushion diminishes is when a driver cuts you off. If another driver cuts into your space cushion, slow down until there is a safe distance in front of your car. Do not brake suddenly; simply ease your foot off the gas pedal to make room. 

You should also add seconds for any adverse condition outside or inside your vehicle. For example, if the weather is bad, add a second to your space cushion. If the weather is bad and there’s heavy traffic, add two. 

Get More Driving Tips from Azuga!

At Azuga, we’re the fleet experts. Our goal is to keep your drivers safe on the road, with both our technology and our informative blogs. Check out some of our articles, like “What is the Best Fleet Safety Training?” and “Best Practices Guide for a Fleet Safety Program.” Also, check out our fleet management software, which can easily help you achieve your safety goals. You can speak with an expert and try a demo today!