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Stopping Distances highway code theory

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.

Car crashed as not enough stopping distance

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.

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