Speed is a critical factor in all road crashes and casualties. Driving is unpredictable and if something unexpected happens on the road ahead it is a driver’s speed that will determine whether they can stop in time.
At Cromptons Solicitors we deal with Road traffic collisions and represent clients with a range of injuries from minor soft tissue damage through to brain and spinal injuries. As part of our support for Road Safety Week (a Brake initiative) we thought it a good idea to remind readers of our blog of the time it would take to stop when travelling in a vehicle being driven at varying speeds.
Stopping distances include the distance travelled while the driver notices a hazard and applies the brakes (thinking distance), and while the vehicle comes to a full stop from its initial speed (braking distance). The government’s official estimates of stopping distances for cars are shown below.
Source: Department for Transport, 2007
The distances above are based on a reaction time of 0.67 seconds, which assumes the driver is alert, concentrating and not impaired. Driving when tired, distracted or impaired significantly increases reaction times, so the thinking distances above should be regarded as a bare minimum.
The braking distance depends on how fast the vehicle was travelling before the brakes were applied, and is proportional to the square of the initial speed. That means even small increases in speed mean significantly longer braking distances.
As we head into winter remember that braking distances are much longer in wet or icy conditions and for larger and heavier vehicles, so again these figures are a minimum.
Technology such as anti-lock brakes and stability control are designed to enable greater control over the vehicle, not shorten stopping distances. There may be a very small reduction in braking distance with modern technology, but not enough to significantly affect your overall stopping distance.
Whatever technology a vehicle has, the basic fact remains that the faster you drive, the longer your stopping distance, and therefore the less chance you have of stopping in time in an emergency.
Why not try the Interactive calculator here to find out if you know your safe stopping distances.