This isn’t a simple one-size-fits-all question to answer; there are lots of variables at play. We’ll start with the basics, then look at how things such as the weather, your tyres, and distractions, and have an impact on your stopping distance.
What does ‘stopping distance’ mean?
Basically, it is the total distance travelled from thinking about stopping, to braking, then actually coming to a stop. The quicker you think and brake, the shorter your stopping distance will be – but don’t take that as needing to slam your foot hard on the brake every time. You need to judge the hazard and react appropriately in each situation.
Stopping distance and speed
Now you may not be surprised to read that there’s a difference in your stopping distance at different speeds, generally, the faster you are travelling, the further your stopping distance will be, so it is crucial you know the amount of space to leave, between you and the car ahead. This handy infographic shows just how much things change between 20-70mph:
What can affect my stopping distance?
Lots of factors can have an impact on your stopping distance:
- The weather – adverse weather conditions can change the road surface, your visibility, and your car’s performance.
- Distractions – there’s a reason why using a phone while driving is illegal, but things such as following a sat nav, eating, drinking, smoking, adjusting your radio, or talking to passengers can all affect your thinking distance, and therefore your overall stopping distance.
- Your car – The condition of your brakes and tyres can play a big part. Make sure you do regular checks on your car and have it serviced and MOT checked annually to check it’s in good working order.
- Your driving ability – A big part of knowing your stopping distances is knowing your general reaction time. That being said, you can never really know how quickly you will react to a danger. As long as you remain focused and vigilant on the road, then your reaction time should be good enough to make sure you stop within plenty of time.
As you can see, your stopping distance can change depending on lots of factors, so stay focused while driving, keep your car in tip-top condition, and don’t go out in bad weather unless you really need to – in which case, stay extra vigilant and leave extra space between yourself and the car in front of you.
We hope these tips help you when it comes to knowing your stopping distances. Have you ever had an experience, where you did judge it quite right, or have found yourself on the brunt end of someone else’s misjudgment? Let us know over on our Facebook page!