Theory Test Stopping Distances
Here are the stopping distances as quoted in the Highway Code. These distances can be difficult to remember but here is a formula to make it easier
Stopping Distances Formula Easy to remember
20 Mph Multiply speed by 2 so 20mph x 2 = 40 feet
30 Mph Multiply speed by 2.5 so 30mph x 2.5 = 75 feet
40 Mph Multiply speed by 3 so 20mph x 3 = 120 feet
50 Mph Multiply speed by 3.5 so 50mph x 3.5 = 175feet
60 Mph Multiply speed by 4 so 60mph x 4 = 240 feet
70 Mph Multiply speed by 4.5 so 70mph x 4.5 = 315 feet
As you can see if you start from 20 mph and multiply by 2 then you get the stopping distances for 20 Mph, then for 30 mph multiply by 2.5 and so on, just start at 20 x 2 and go up by half for each additional 10 mph. so 20mph x2, 30mph x 2.5, 40mph x 3 and so on.
Double these distances for a wet road surface. And for Ice or snow multiply by 10 so in the snow at 30 mph it will take you about 60 car lengths to stop!
Be careful to read the questions correctly on your theory test as you may be asked the thinking distance, the braking distance or the overall stopping distance. Again you can use the same formula, just remember that the thinking distance is always the same as the speed, I.E
20mph thinking distance = 20 ft.
30mph thinking distance = 30 ft.
40mph thinking distance = 40 ft.
And so on.
So at 40 mph the overall stopping distance will be (40 x 3 ) 120 feet so if we deduct the thinking distance which would be 40 feet, this leaves us with the braking distance of 80 feet.
Obviously this wont help much in an emergency, but it is a great way to memorise the figures for your theory test.
Probably more important than learning the quoted stopping distances is knowing just how much further it takes to stop at higher speeds, I.E at 30 mph the quoted stopping distance is 75 feet but add an extra 10 mph and at 40 mph the quoted stopping distance increases by 45 feet, that is more than a 50% increase. At 70 mph it will take you at least the length of a football pitch to stop, and that is if you have quick reactions, good brakes and a dry road surface, in the wet this distance would probably more than double. your thinking distance is the same amount in feet as your speed so even at 40 mph in an emergency your car will travel 40 feet before you even get your foot on the brake!
So now you can see why in dry conditions you need a 2 second space between you and the car in front, and you need to double it to 4 seconds in the wet.
Find out just what will happen on your first driving lessonread more
Choosing a driving instructor Choosing a Driving Instructor With over 47000 driving instructors in the UK how do you choose the right one? With so many to choose from it is worth your time in doing a little research before booking your first lesson. How many lessons...read more
All of the questions that you may be asked on the new driving test.read more
Driving with parents When you are learning to drive it is a good idea to take as much private practice as possible, driving with your parents is one of the best ways to do this. There are a few guidelines which you will need to follow. Private driving...read more
Breakdown cover is essential if travelling far from home or on motorways, read our guide explaining different types of cover available.read more
Whats the best first car? Read our guide to help find your first car.read more