Why is it important to know car stopping distances
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.
Only a fool breaks the 2 second rule
One of the most important rules to follow while driving is the 2 second rule, in dry conditions you should always have a 2 second time gap between yourself and the vehicle in front. This distance should be doubled to 4 seconds in wet conditions. An easy way to achieve this is to watch when the vehicle ahead of you goes past a fixed object such as a lamp post or traffic sign and say to yourself slowly “only a fool breaks the 2 second rule”. You should be able to finish saying that phrase before you pass the same fixed object, if you pass the object before you finish the phrase then you are too close. In wet conditions it is the same but you need to say the phrase twice to make it 4 seconds.
In icy weather then you need to leave a gap of 20 seconds, or prefefably leave your car at home as it can be very difficult to stop on ice.
For more information on all aspects of road safety you could have a look at the website of the Royal Society of the Prevention of Accidents at Rospa.com. You will find loads of tips and advice on how to stay safe on the roads.
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