What affects braking distances?

By 11 December, 2017 Safety, Tyres
braking distances

There are plenty of myths about braking distances that many have accepted as truth. Often we forget to take into account key factors such as reaction times, tyre treads and the condition of our brakes, as well as speed, distance and weather conditions. This guide will help to dispel the myths and ensure that you’re safer on the road!

Typical stopping distances

According to The Highway Code, the following stopping distances apply, taking into account braking distances and reaction time:

  • 12 metres at 20mph
  • 23 metres at 30mph
  • 36 metres at 40mph
  • 53 metres at 50mph
  • 73 metres at 60mph
  • 96 metres at 70mph

As you can see, speed has a direct bearing on our braking distances. The faster you’re going, the longer it’ll take your brain to react and your brakes to function.

Other factors that affect braking distances

There are numerous other factors that will affect your capacity for braking safely. These include:

  1. The condition of your brakes
    While ABS brakes help you keep control of the car if you have to brake sharply, they won’t have a significant impact on braking distances, so you’ll still need to keep your distance. It’s vital that you maintain your brakes regularly, ensuring your brake pads, discs and fluid are in good working order.
  2. The condition of your tyres
    Tyre quality, tyre treads and tyre pressure will have a major bearing on the effectiveness of your braking. It’s worth investing in premium tyres, which way outperform other tyres in overall performance and braking capacity. And don’t wait until your tyre treads are barely legal before you replace them. A tyre with 8mm of tread will stop more quickly than a tyre with 3mm of tyre tread or less. Finally, if your tyres are over or under inflated, contact with the road is reduced, which again makes braking safely more difficult. Find out the recommended tyre pressures for your car and check them once a month.
  3. The condition of your windscreen
    It goes without saying that if you can’t see out of your windscreen, you’re less likely to spot hazards and obstructions. Get rid of anything hanging in your line of vision and fully defrost your windscreen before travelling on cold days. Make sure your wipers are working effectively and that your washer fluid is topped up.
  4. The condition of the roads
    Standing water, ice and snow can have a major impact on your stopping distances. Poor road conditions can affect your brakes and tyres, and may even cause you to lose control of your vehicle. Braking distances in wintry conditions can be ten times longer than in safer conditions. Make sure you drop your speed and keep further back from the vehicle in front if road conditions are poor.
  5. The condition you are in as a driver
    If you’re tired or distracted, your reaction times will be slower, which will mean braking safely is more of a challenge. Alcohol and drugs can also slow your thinking times. Avoiding these substances, taking regular breaks from driving, eliminating distractions (including mobile phones!) and keeping windows open can help to keep you more alert.
Braking safely

While it’s important to be aware of typical braking distances, it’s vital that you consider all of the above when it comes to braking safely. If in doubt, drive at a safe speed, keep a safe distance between you and the car in front, and get your car serviced regularly.

When you have your car serviced at IN ‘n’ OUT, we will always check your tyres and brake conditions to ensure they meet legal and manufacturer servicing requirements. What are you waiting for? Book your Interim Service today, and why not combine it with your next MOT test with a MOT & Service Combi and save even more!