Javascript is not enabled.

Javascript must be enabled to use this site. Please enable Javascript in your browser and try again.

Skip to content
Content starts here
CLOSE ×
Search
Leaving AARP.org Website

You are now leaving AARP.org and going to a website that is not operated by AARP. A different privacy policy and terms of service will apply.

How to Create a Space Cushion While Driving

Keeping enough distance from other vehicles will ensure you have enough room to maneuver when you are behind the wheel

Keeping enough distance from other vehicles will ensure you have enough room to maneuver when you are behind the wheel. A space cushion is a buffer around your vehicle that you maintain to allow room to maneuver, if necessary. Know what is in your space cushion, scan frequently and maintain awareness of other vehicles.
This extra space will help you move or maneuver in case of an emergency or hazardous situation. If you do not have an adequate space cushion on all sides, you must be extra alert. When driving in congested traffic, try to maintain a space cushion in the front and on at least one side. When traffic thins out, you can reestablish the space cushion all around your vehicle.


A space cushion is a buffer around your vehicle that you maintain to allow room to maneuver, if necessary. Know what is in your space cushion, scan frequently and maintain awareness of other vehicles.

See also: Learn how changes in your brain impact your driving

  • Keep at least a three-second following distance in front of you – four or five seconds in inclement weather.
  • If another vehicle is tailgating you, use your turn signal and change lanes, as soon as it is safe to do so.
  • If a driver near you is driving erratically or aggressively, put distance between you and the other driver by slowing down or changing lanes.
close up of a gold car parked near the water during sunset

AARP Auto Buying Program

Find a car with safety features you want and get upfront pricing information.

close up of a gold car parked near the water during sunset

Please Select Make

Please Enter ZIP Code

Please Select Make

Please Enter ZIP Code