How well do you know your stopping distances?

Whether you’re studying for your theory test, preparing for your practical driving test or refreshing your road safety knowledge knowing stopping distances will always be important. As a driver you are responsible for driving as safely as possible to reduce the risk of accidents and limit damage in the event of an accident.

Stopping distances refer to the distance that your car continues to travel after you apply the brakes.

Stopping distances

All cars are different and the conditions of the road will also affect the stopping distance of the vehicle. However the DSA have issued a guide to normal conditions as follows:

  • 20 mph – 12 metres (40 feet) or three car lengths
  • 30 mph – 23 metres (75 feet) or six car lengths
  • 40 mph – 36 metres (118 feet) or nine car lengths
  • 50 mph – 53 metres (175 feet) or thirteen car lengths
  • 60 mph – 73 metres (240 feet) or eighteen car lengths
  • 70 mph – 96 metres (315 feet) or twenty-four car lengths

Bad road conditions doubles the distance

If the condition of the road is anything but perfect these stopping distances could increase as much as twice the normal figures. Bad conditions include rain, ice and loose road surfaces.

Don’t neglect your tyres

You must maintain the condition of your tyres as well to ensure that your brake pads and tyres work together to stop the car. Worn tyres can increase the stopping distance by 40% or so, which is significant especially at high speeds.

Heavy loads take longer to stop

Large and heavy vehicles take slightly longer to stop too travelling an estimated 80 metres if braking at 60mph where a car would only travel another 73 metres. If you’re driving a large vehicle than usually e.g. you’re training for your truck licence then remember to account for the great stopping distance.

You should invest in a copy of the Highway Code which will not only help you prepare for your theory and practical tests but will be useful throughout your driving life. If you’re not sure how to calculate your distances while out on the road ask your instructor about stopping distances.