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Stopping Distances and The Theory Test

There are questions about stopping distances in the current DVSA question bank for the theory test; so you’re best revising to answer correctly on the day of your test. Take a look at our online training which contains more than 400 unique clips to help you in the preparation of a first time pass! 

Stopping Distances

Are you preparing for your UK Driving Theory Test but keep getting caught out by the questions on stopping distances, braking distances and thinking distances? 

Here's how to remember stopping distances in your Theory Test:

Thinking Distance

Braking Distance

Stopping Distance

Thinking distance is the distance you travel between spotting the hazard and physically hitting the brake pedal.

Braking distance is the distance you travel between hitting the brakes and actually coming to a stop.

Stopping distances is both the thinking distance and the braking distance added together. 

 

Thinking distance is appropriately 1 foot for every mph you’re travelling at, if you’re driving at 50mph your thinking distance will be about 50 feet. 

 What is the stopping distance at...

Speed Stopping Distance
20mph 12 Meters / 40 Feet
30mph 23 Meters / 75 Feet
40mph 36 Meters / 118 Feet
50mph 53 Meters / 175 Feet
60mph 73 Meters / 240 Feet
70mph 96 Meters / 315 Feet

 

Wet and Icy Conditions

Wet conditions = your braking and

Wet conditions = your braking and overall stopping distance will at least DOUBLE

Icy conditions = your braking and overall stopping distance will be at least TEN TIMES


.

How to remember stopping distances

Here is a great way to remember the overall stopping distances.

Starting from 20mph you simply multiply the speed by intervals of 0.5, beginning with 2, for example, 2, 2.5, 3, 3.5 etc as follows:

20mph x 2 = 40 feet ((12 meters) or 3 car lengths)

30 mph x 2.5 = 75 feet ((23 meters) or 6 car lengths)

40 mph x 3 = 120 feet ((36.5 meters) or 9 car lengths)

50 mph x 3.5 = 175 feet ((53 meters) or 13 car lengths)

60 mph x 4 = 240 feet ((73 meters) or 18 car lengths)

70 mph x 4.5 = 315 feet ((96 meters) or 24 car lengths)

The above calculations are a simple way to help you remember the correct stopping distances, but please be aware that these are approximate.  The overall stopping distance is really the only safe separation gap, anything less than this can be considered a risk.

Numerous factors affect a vehicles braking distance, here are a few;

  • Speed the vehicle is travelling
  • Road surface
  • Weather conditions
  • Condition of the brakes
  • Driver ability

Do I need to know stopping distances for my theory test?

There are questions about stopping distances in the current DVSA question bank for the theory test; so you’re best revising to answer correctly on the day of your test.

On the official DVSA test you may well be asked a question on braking or stopping distances. If so, the four possible answers that you will be presented with will be in BOTH feet and metres. 

Understanding stopping distances is essential to being a safe driver beyond the theory test also. Research by Safe Roads* have shown that around a third of all road deaths are caused by driving at the incorrect speed, and misjudging stopping distances.

Remember;

  •  If you reduce your speed by just 1mph, your chances of being involved in a serious accident falls by 5%.
  • If you hit a child while driving at 40mph – you’ll probably kill the child
  • If you hit a child while driving at 30mph – the child has a 80% chance of surviving
  • If you hit a child while driving at 20mph – the child will probably suffer minor injuries but survive