Safe motorcycle following distances (MOD 2 test tips)

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Following distances

Following distances allow sufficient time to react

The examiner will assess the candidate’s observation of safe following distances. Correct following distances allow the rider sufficient time to react safely to whatever happens ahead of them i.e. stopping without the need for an emergency stop. Following distances are influenced by speed, weather, road surface, traffic flow and sometimes the size of vehicle being followed.

A general rule is one metre per mile an hour of speed, so travelling at 30 mph would indicate a following distance of at least 30 metres. Another approach is the ‘two-second rule’ where riders should not be closer than two seconds from the vehicle in front. Some motorcycle trainers suggest saying out loud ‘only a fool breaks the two second rule’, which takes around two seconds to say. In wet conditions following distances must be doubled to four seconds.

Riders must have a clear view of wing mirrors

Key points to remember:

  • Allow sufficient following distance to always react safely
  • Apply the ‘two second rule’ in dry conditions – doubled in the wet
  • Allow sufficient distance behind stationary vehicles

When stopping behind stationary vehicles, at least a car length is required from a car, with progressively more distance needed behind larger vehicles. Behind vans, buses and trucks, riders must stop at a distance that gives a clear view of the wing mirrors of the vehicle in front.

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