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Road Safety: Stopping Distances

When we are learning to drive, we are taught the correct stopping distances that apply for travelling at varying speeds in different types of conditions. However, it can be easy to forget exactly how much distance you should allow for when stopping, so this article will detail the important facts that you need to be mindful of.

Reaction Time

On average, from the time we notice an emergency situation to our foot pressing down on the brake pedal, 0.7 seconds elapse. This means that if you were travelling at 30mph (44 feet per second), you will have covered 30 feet before the pedal is pressed, and another 45 feet before the car is brought to a stop. Obviously, the faster you are travelling, the further you will travel before you press the brake pedal and stop the car. The Highway Code details the respective stopping distances for different speeds as follows:

Stopping Distances


It takes 40 feet before your car will stop, which equates to 29.4 feet per second, or four car lengths.


Stopping takes 75 feet, travelling at 44 feet per second, or six car lengths.


Stopping at 40mph means you travel over 120ft, or 10 car lengths, at a rate of 58.8 feet per second.

50 mph

175 feet will pass before the car comes to a stop, which equates to 73.5 feet or 14 car lengths.


When travelling at the national speed limit, it takes 240 feet to stop the car, which is equivalent to 88 feet per second or 20 car lengths.


On motorways, the stopping distance is 315ft. This means you will travel the length of 26 cars at a rate of 102.9 feet per second.

In order to aid drivers with their stopping, motorways have markers set up every 100 metres – if the car in front is passing one of these markers, you should not yet have passed the previous one. In wet conditions, the above stopping distances should be at least doubled.

Another important factor in the stopping distance of your vehicle is the condition of your tyres. If your tyres are worn, their ability to grip the road is significantly hampered, so ensure that they are in good condition before you set off on any journey.

Here at Tyres Northampton, we are proud to supply the highest quality tyres from the world’s leading manufacturers. If you would like to know more about what we can provide you with, pay us a visit or get in touch today and we will be more than happy to help.


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