What is the minimum distance between vehicles

Safety distance

This is what the StVO says about the safety distance in road traffic

In the road traffic regulations (StVO) it is not regulated with precise meter information how much safety distance you have to keep from the traffic in front of you with the car. According to §4 StVO, however, you are in any case obliged to leave enough space so that you can bring your vehicle to a stop in time even if the vehicle in front of you brakes unexpectedly. The background to this regulation: Driving too close increases the risk of accidents if the braking distance of the car is longer than the distance between the vehicles. The legal regulations on minimum distance do not differentiate between inner-city and extra-urban roads, but there are special regulations for certain motor vehicles and trucks on the safety distance, which refer to interurban and expressways. These are the exact provisions in the StVO:

  • Minimum distance in general: “As a rule, the distance to a vehicle in front must be so great that it is possible to stay behind it even if it suddenly brakes. Those who drive ahead are not allowed to brake hard without a compelling reason. ”(Section 4 (1) StVO).
  • Safety distance between motor vehicle with speed restriction and trailer: "Anyone who drives a motor vehicle that is subject to a special speed limit, as well as a train that is longer than 7.00 m, must keep a sufficient distance from the vehicle in front outside built-up areas overtaking motor vehicle can cut in. (...). "(§4 Abs. StVO).
  • Minimum distance for trucks and buses: "Anyone who drives a truck with a gross vehicle weight of more than 3.5 t or a bus must keep a minimum distance of 50 m from vehicles in front of them on motorways if the speed is more than 50 km / h." (§4 Abs. 3 StVO).

So you can calculate the safety distance using a formula

If necessary, being able to stop even if the vehicle in front suddenly brakes, that is the general legal requirement for the safety distance. In everyday life, however, you need concrete clues as to whether you have driven up too close and how many meters distance you have to keep depending on your speed. You can use these formulas to determine the safety distance:

placeDistance rule
In townThe distance to the vehicle in front must be at least the distance that you cover in one second with your vehicle.
City streetsOn inner-city streets with a speed limit of 50 km / h, you have the right safety distance if there is about 15 meters or three vehicle lengths between you and the person in front.
Country roads, highways and expresswaysYou are at the right distance if the distance to the car in front is the distance you cover in two seconds.
Formula for extra-urban roadsNecessary safety distance: "Minimum distance = half the speedometer value"
  • Examples for the formula calculation of the safety distance: At 80 km / h, half the speedometer value corresponds to a safety distance of 40 meters. At 100 km / h the minimum distance must be 50 m, while at a speed of 120 km / h a good 60 m distance must be kept.

Calculating the safety distance: You have to take these factors into account

The formula for calculating the necessary safety distance after half the speedometer value is easy to use and prevents you from driving too close and being flashed as a suspected pester when the police measure the distance. However, the rule of thumb only provides guide values, since under special conditions it may well be necessary to increase the safety margin beyond the formula value. You should take these factors into account when calculating the distance to the car in front:

  • orientation: You can estimate how many meters of safety distance you have with the help of the boundary posts along the road. Because the white posts are always at a fixed distance of 50 meters and thus provide orientation when assessing the distance to the vehicle in front.
  • Check distance: Used the delineator posts to keep checking the safety distance. Because how many meters are necessary depends on the speed. If you drive faster in between, you have to adjust the distance to the vehicle in front of you accordingly.
  • Traffic and road conditions: Lots of construction sites, a long time behind the wheel, heavy traffic or finally free travel again after a traffic jam - such situations can reduce the ability to react and be more considerate. Therefore, make sure that the safety distance is correct and it is better to keep a few more meters away.
  • Weather conditions: Whether poor visibility through fog or blowing snow or longer braking distances on slippery roads, the weather conditions should also play a role when calculating the safety distance. Here, too, a rule of thumb applies: it is better to significantly increase the safety distance calculated after half the speedometer value, as impaired vision shortens reaction times and wetness extends braking distances.

The catalog of fines provides for this as penalties for insufficient safety margin

Drivers are always asked to be in control of their vehicle in every situation and also to be able to react to unexpected braking maneuvers. That is why it is important to have a sufficient distance from the traffic in front. And since driving too close is one of the most common causes of accidents, the police take distance measurements with stationary video cameras and speed cameras or with specially equipped surveillance vehicles. In the event of distance violations, fines and penalties are then imposed, which can vary depending on the severity of the violation. Here is a brief insight into the sanctions that the catalog of fines provides for driving too close:

  • Fines: Depending on the driving speed and the measured proximity to the car in front, fines between 25 and 400 euros can be imposed in the course of the distance measurement. The faster and the less distance, the more expensive it becomes for drivers who do not keep a safe distance. So you pay 240 euros if you only keep 10 m distance at 100 km / h instead of the required 50 m. If, on the other hand, the distance measurement at 100 km / h detects a distance of 25 m, the fine drops to 75 euros.
  • Points: From Tempo 81, a point in the Flensburg card index is provided in the catalog of fines for driving too close. From 101 km / h there are two points in the traffic offender register.
  • Driving license withdrawal: Depending on how close you are to the bumper of the person in front, you can expect to be banned from driving for between one and three months.

Safety distance: the most important information at a glance

  • StVO: With the exception of trucks, the road traffic regulations do not contain any specific information on how many meters there must be a safe distance. However, there is a general rule that the minimum distance must be large enough that you can stop in time at any time.
  • Calculate the safety distance: This can easily be done with the formula “half the speedometer value = correct minimum distance. The posts that are 50 m away from the roadside outside built-up areas make it easier to assess the safety distance.
  • If in doubt, more distance: The distance to the traffic in front of you can hardly be estimated exactly while driving. So follow the rule of thumb that if you are in doubt, it is better to increase the safety distance. This is especially true in bad weather and road conditions.
  • Fines: If the police determine when measuring your distance that you have driven too close, you will receive a fine of up to 400 euros. At high speed from 101 km / h, there are additional points in Flensburg and driving license revocation.
  • counselor: You can find information on the subject of safety distances on the Internet and on the online pages of automobile clubs such as ADAC. For example, how it can be calculated using a formula or how you can determine the amount of the fines with the fine calculator.