How Much Following Distance Should You Leave Between Your Vehicle and a Motorcycle?

A man on a motorcycle with great distance from the car

Maintaining a safe following distance is important when driving around other vehicles, especially motorcycles. Even in heavy traffic, giving yourself time to stop safely is essential to protecting both you and other drivers on the road. If these rules and guidelines are not followed, it can lead to dangerous accidents.

However, you may be concerned about following safe following distance guidelines when it comes to motorcycles specifically. You may be worried about following too closely, especially as they are vulnerable to accidents. Fortunately, the attorneys at the Text Kevin Accident Attorneys are here to help guide you through recommended distances, what happens if these rules are not followed, and what you can do to protect yourself from an accident claim.

Table of Contents

Recommended Following Distances between Your Vehicle and a Motorcycle

You may already be aware that you need to make space between you and a motorcycle when following behind one, but you may be unsure how much distance is required. You want to stay safe, but you also do not want to impede the flow of traffic. So how much space is correct?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration suggests giving yourself at least 4 seconds to stop when following another vehicle. This usually means at least one car length, but you may need more than a car’s length at high speeds. Giving yourself this extra time to stop can go a long way in preventing a dangerous motorcycle-involved accident.

Faster Speeds Require Larger Following Distances

Keep in mind that the faster you are going, the more time and distance it will take to stop. At speeds of 60 mph, it can already take several yards to stop the vehicle. At faster speeds, it may take even longer.

That also means more force if an accident happens. When more force is applied to the other vehicle because of these speeds, it can lead to more damage and more severe injuries for the parties involved. In fact, studies show that crashes that happen at higher speeds frequently have a higher rate of injury and death.

Weather Conditions Can Impact Following Distance Recommendations

Remember also that these guidelines and recommendations refer to dry, well-lit conditions. If it is raining, nighttime, or if the roads are simply still wet after a storm, your vehicle may not have as much friction to help it stop. That means that you may have much longer stopping distances than you expect.

Because of this, it is vital to slow down and increase the following distances between your vehicle and a motorcycle. Without this extra distance, you may find yourself unable to stop in time even if you are giving the usual distance between you and other vehicles. This can also help you avoid an accident if your car hydroplanes, meaning you have entirely lost traction with the road.

If you are unsure if you are putting enough distance between yourself and the motorcycle, choose a landmark and count the seconds between the motorcycle passing it and you passing it. You typically want at least 4 seconds of distance between yourself and the motorcycle.

What Happens If I Follow Too Closely and an Accident Happens?

If you follow too closely and an accident happens, you may face difficulties, as the other party may blame the accident on your negligence. As drivers, we are all expected to follow a duty of care to protect the safety of other people on the road. If you or other drivers fail to maintain safe following distances, which is part of safe driving, you may be accused of causing the accident.

Unfortunately, this can have significant consequences for your insurance policy and your ability to seek a settlement, and it can potentially lead to a lawsuit against you. If you accept the blame, or if you accept part of the blame, your ability to seek compensation, if you have grounds to do so, maybe reduced under California Civil Code 1714. That can leave you pain out of your own pocket for the damages you have suffered.

In these situations, you may need an attorney’s help to avoid blame being placed on you for the accident. Your attorney can help gather evidence that shows you are being careful and that you could not have caused the accident. However, even if the evidence is stacked against you, your lawyer can identify the best path forward for you to avoid more severe consequences.

What to Do After a Motorcycle Accident

When a motorcycle accident happens, it can be difficult to stay focused and ensure that you are taking the right steps. However, mistakes, even at this stage, can lead to consequences that impact your compensation. Because of this, it is still vital to take the proper steps following an accident with a motorcycle.

First, the most critical step is to protect the safety of any drivers, passengers, and other parties that may be impacted by the accident. Protecting the safety of those involved as much as possible and taking the right precautions can help save lives. As you navigate an accident like this, be sure to take the following steps as well.

Get Medical Attention

When an accident happens, especially if a motorcycle is involved, seeking medical care right away is important. Any accident can be dangerous, especially for motorcyclists, who may be more vulnerable to the road. However, in a severe accident, you may have injuries that you are not yet aware of that can be identified by the medical personnel.

Seeking medical attention right away can also help when negotiating a settlement with the insurance company. If you delay getting treatment or never seek treatment, it can be difficult to get compensated fairly through the insurance company, which may claim that your injuries are unrelated to the accident because you did not seek treatment. Your medical records can also help identify how the accident happened and who was at fault.

Pro Tip
If you believe someone is injured, never move them unless absolutely necessary. Spinal cord damage can be worsened if the injury victim is moved without proper care.

Contact the Authorities

Following a motorcycle accident, you may also need to contact the authorities. If someone is injured or killed in the accident, or if there is property damage, you may be legally required to file a police report about the accident. If you fail, you may face criminal penalties for failing to report.

Filing a police report can also be a key piece of evidence if the at-fault party is wrongfully blaming you for the motorcycle-involved accident. This police report can provide a record of how the accident happened, what damage was sustained in the accident, and who was at fault for it. That information may be usable in court for your lawyer.

Document the Scene

Documenting the scene as clearly as possible can also help your case. While injuries may make it impossible, and while you should not put yourself in danger to do so, gathering evidence right away can help prevent losses of evidence in the future. For example, the accident scene itself may be cleaned up quickly, meaning evidence may be destroyed shortly after the crash.

If you are unable to gather this evidence yourself, an attorney at our firm may be able to help. Your lawyer can take action on your behalf and gather evidence if you are unable. Gathering this evidence as soon as possible can support your case and help you prepare for any accusations or claims against you.

Know What Your Claim Is Worth

Before you ever take your claim to court or negotiate a settlement with the insurance company, it is vital to know the exact value of your claim. If you are unaware, it can lead to significant mistakes that can impact your ability to recover fully. It can even leave you paying out of pocket for some of the most serious expenses and losses you have suffered.

These damages are split into economic and non-economic damages. Your economic damages include the financial losses you have suffered because of the accident, including property damage and lost income. Your non-economic damages should consist of any pain and suffering you have experienced, so speak to your attorney about calculating the intangible suffering you have been put through under California Civil Code 1431.2.

Remember that your damages should include not only your current damages but also any future damages you are aware of caused by the accident. For example, you may know you need surgery and treatment for your ongoing injury recovery, but you may not have had this treatment yet.

Get Legal Representation Before You Go to Court

In some cases, you may find it impossible to settle fairly with the insurance company, either because they are unwilling to settle in good faith or because the coverage is not enough. In these situations, your next step may be to file a lawsuit against the negligent party, or the other driver may have already filed the lawsuit against you. In these cases, one of the best options for you is typically to seek legal aid from an attorney.

Your attorney can offer high-quality, specific guidance through the legal system that you may not have the experience or resources to do alone. They can provide case-specific guidance to help you navigate the details of your claim accurately and without endangering your compensation. They can also represent you during litigation, speaking on your behalf in the courtroom so that you can focus your time and energy on healing.

Dealing with Insurance Companies Following an Accident Involving a Motorcycle

When you are involved in a motorcycle accident, your first effort towards seeking compensation may be your insurance company. While California is a fault state under California Insurance Code – INS § 11580.1, you or the motorcyclist may have grounds for an insurance claim for the damage suffered in the accident. However, just because you have the coverage does not mean it will always be easy to get fair settlement offers.

In fact, many people face lowball settlement offers and bad-faith rejections as they pursue compensation. Insurance companies are for-profit businesses, meaning their focus is not on your recovery but their growing profits. Paying for an accident claim is not in their best interest, especially as motorcycle accidents often involve serious, long-term injuries, such as spinal cord injuries.

Because of this, dealing with insurance companies can be difficult, but with an attorney on your side, you may have a better chance to get fair compensation. Your attorney can negotiate on your behalf throughout this process, helping you avoid paying out of your own pocket for your recovery. Your attorney can also help if negotiation is not an option and your claim goes to litigation.

How an Attorney Can Give You the Legal Support You Need when an Accident Happens

When an accident happens and your financial recovery is on the line, an attorney can be a powerful tool to help you recover. They can offer legal experience that you do not have on hand, such as knowledge of California’s pure comparative negligence laws according to Civil Code 1714, which can impact the value of your case. Other laws, such as the statute of limitations under California Code of Civil Procedure § 335.1, can even impact how much time you have to sue.

Your attorney can also be a key part of preparing your case for the courtroom. That includes gathering evidence and documenting any proof needed for the compensation you need or for the actions you have taken. This can be crucial to having the evidence needed to prove that you are not at fault for the accident.

Your attorney can also provide representation in the courtroom during litigation. Arguing your case before the judge can be a harrowing experience, and without knowledge, it is easy to say the wrong thing. With a lawyer on your side, you have legal support that can help you navigate this side of your claim.

Connect with an Attorney for High-Quality Legal Support

When following a motorcycle, you may be surprised at the amount of following distance that is appropriate to leave between your vehicle and the motorcycle. In fact, many people do not know how much following distance they should leave, leading to serious accidents. Unfortunately, you may have been involved in one of these accidents, and now you are suffering for it.

Fortunately, the attorneys at the Text Kevin Accident Attorneys are here to help. Our team of qualified attorneys can offer guidance throughout the legal process, from your free consultation to the final judgment on your accident claim, whether you need a strong defense or compensation to help you recover from your injuries. To learn more about our services and speak with our team, reach out by calling or filling out our quick online contact form.

Kevin Crockett

Kevin Crockett

Kevin Crockett is an award-winning personal injury lawyer who understands the impact an accident can have on someone’s life. That’s why he aggressively fights for each of his clients.

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