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...
|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)|
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?
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.
What is the 2 second rule when driving?
The 2 second rule is rough guidance given to drivers to help estimate reaction times. The way to use the rule is to take note of the back of the vehicle ahead and a stationary object; once the back of the vehicle has passed the object (for instance, a road sign or street light) then say 'only a fool breaks the two second rule' at normal speaking rate. If the front of your vehicle reaches that stationary point before you finish the sentence, you need to increase your travelling distance.
This rule is not a recommended travelling distance; and is instead just used as a general rule of thumb for your MINIMUM travelling distance.
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.
- 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