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Traffic Talk: A quick stop isn't always possible in a fast-moving vehicle

Don Gammill: Braking distance depends on a variety of factors.
By Don Gammill Published: October 15, 2012

You might be a little surprised.

First, the manual says there are three steps in stopping your vehicle — perception, reaction and braking. The perception takes about half a second. This is seeing/hearing danger.

The reaction takes about two-thirds of a second. This is when the brain tells the foot to brake.

The braking/stopping depends upon speed. This is when you press the brake until the vehicle stops.

Now comes the estimated emergency stopping distances (from expert analysis):

At 20 mph, the distance in feet the vehicle travels as the driver reacts is 44. The braking distance is 15 to 22 feet. The total stopping distance is 59 to 66 feet.

At 30 mph, those numbers are 66, 33 to 50, 99 to 116.

At 40 mph, it's 88, 53 to 107, 141 to 195.

At 50 mph, 110, 83 to 167, 193 to 277.

At 60 mph, 132, 120 to 240, 252 to 372.

At 70 mph, 154, 163 to 327 and 317 to 481.

And at 80 mph, 176, 213 to 427 and 389 to 603.

Think about that. On a good road, in good weather, at 80 mph, you car's braking distance is more than a football field and a half.

And, at 80 mph at night, “you are overdriving your headlights — you can't stop your car within the distance you can see.”

By the way ...

If you have bad tires, and are traveling a bad road, or are in bad weather, you can see how the odds really are against you.

The numbers really don't look good. It's up to you.

Enjoy your week and drive safely.


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