An important part of driving is know your stopping distance. It’s essential that you leave enough distance from the vehicle in front of you in case you have to brake suddenly. There’s a lot more to braking than simply putting your foot down on the brake. Here’s all you need to know about stopping distances on the road.
Your stopping distance is worked out with the following formula:
Thinking distance + Braking distance = Stopping Distance
The faster you are going, the further your stopping distance. Make sure you take that into account when spacing your vehicle with the one in front. The highway code includes a table of typical stopping distances. It’s worth learning them, as it could be the difference between a collision and a safe stop.
Unless you’re a mind reader, it’s very unlikely you will be able to apply the brake at the same time as the vehicle in front of you. The thinking distance then refers to the amount of time it takes you to react to the vehicle ahead breaking.
Factors Affecting Thinking Distance
Tiredness – If you’re tired, your reactions are going to be slower.
Drugs and Alcohol – Any intake of alcohol or drugs is known to have a negative effect on reaction time. This can include prescription drugs.
Distractions – If you cannot concentrate fully on the road, your reaction time will be slower.
The stopping distance is how far the vehicle travels before coming to a complete stop once the brakes are applied. Again, the stopping distance is greater at higher speeds so it’s vital to factor this in.
Brakes – If your brakes are not kept in a good condition, they are less effective.
Road Conditions – Poor road conditions can have an impact on your grip. This in turn increases your stopping distance. If the road conditions are poor, give yourself more room from the vehicle ahead of you.
Weight – The heavier your vehicle, the greater the stopping distance. For example, a large SUV will likely have a bigger stopping distance than a small hatchback. Be aware of your distance if you have more people in your vehicle than normal or have extra luggage.
In order to give yourself enough space from the car in front, a good rule of thumb is to leave two-second gap. If the conditions are poor, this doubles to four seconds.
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