When you put your foot on the brake, you probably do it instinctively, with very little conscious thought involved – but there’s actually more to it than you might realise! You can be forgiven for thinking that your braking distance is the same as your stopping distance, but in fact, your overall stopping distance is made up of two different things, your thinking and braking distance.
Thinking distance + Braking distance = Stopping distance
What is thinking distance?
Your thinking distance is the distance your car travels after you have spotted a danger, before you apply the brakes. Of course, some people’s reactions are better than others’, however the average distance before the driver realises there is a hazard ahead is 6 metres, when travelling at 20mph.
What is braking distance?
This is the distance the car travels after you’ve applied the brakes; the average car will travel 6 metres before coming to a complete stop when travelling 20mph, meaning your stopping distance at 20mph will be 12 metres – quite a lot, isn’t it?
Your overall stopping distance will depend on your reactions, as well as the car you’re driving – weather and speed will also change your stopping distance.
Check out our handy guide, to see what your stopping distance will be, depending on your speed.
The best idea is to always leave plenty of space between you and any vehicles ahead of you, and avoid distractions such as using your phone, fiddling with the radio, or eating and drinking at the wheel. Doing these things will put you in a better position to react and stop in time, if you do need to apply the brakes unexpectedly.