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Stopping Distances and The Theory Test

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

Are you preparing for the Official DVSA 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:


1. Understand the difference between thinking, braking and stopping distance:

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. 


2. Be familiar with stopping distances at different speeds and in different road conditions:

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 overall stopping distance will at least DOUBLE

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



.

3. Learn this handy trick on 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)


Now you know the stopping distances, make sure you know what the average Theory Test Pass Mark is and take our quick, free mock test here.


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 vehicle's braking distance, here are a few;

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

A major factor that affects stopping distances is a driver's reaction time. A recent article by The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA) states that during a three-hour journey, 75% of the subjects ate or drank at the wheel and 91% of subjects played with the radio controls. 


Do I need to know stopping distances for my Theory Test?

Yes.

There are questions about stopping distances in the current Official DVSA question bank for the Theory Test. You’re best revising to answer correctly on the day of your test, and the more your revise the more confident you'll feel 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. Research by Safe Roads* has 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 an 80% chance of surviving
  • If you hit a child while driving at 20mph – the child will probably suffer minor injuries but survive

 

 


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