Stopping Distance: What Is It and Does the Condition of Your Tyres Affect It?

image of a stop sign

Tailgating is one of the top pet peeves of drivers. We all hate it if it happens to us, but may ourselves be guilty of getting a little too close to other cars when, for example, in a rush or behind someone going perhaps a little too slow for our liking. It’s bad, it’s annoying, it’s dangerous, and we really shouldn’t do it. 

The biggest reason why tailgating is bad is that it doesn’t give you enough stopping distance. To be a safe driver, it’s important to understand stopping distances. In this blog, we’re going to outline what stopping distance is, as well as provide an overview of what things can affect stopping or braking distance.

Why is it a good idea to leave enough distance between you and the car in front of you?

There are a number of reasons why leaving enough distance between you and the car in front is a good idea. Firstly, it gives you a better view of the road ahead, meaning you can react quickly (and safely) to any potential hazards ahead such as stopping in time if cars ahead of you brake suddenly. And secondly, it helps with your fuel economy. This means that you can drive more smoothly and are not braking every time the car in front of you slows down for whatever reason.

What is stopping distance?

Stopping distance is the time that it takes for a moving car to come to a full and complete stop. The formula for working out stopping distance can be calculated with this simple method:

Stopping distance = thinking distance + braking distance

  • Thinking distance – the time that it takes for someone to react to a hazard
  • Braking distance – the time that it takes for the brakes to stop the car

How much stopping distance should I leave?

As we’ve covered already, tailgating should be avoided as this doesn’t give you enough stopping distance and can lead to a road incident. Therefore, when driving, it is always best to leave enough clear distance in front of you. This is so that, should you need to brake suddenly, or the car in front of you does, then it gives you time to react and the brakes to slow or stop the car.

So, how much stopping distance should you leave? This depends on a few different factors as stopping distances vary. They vary depending on the speed and the weather. For example, if you’re travelling at 20mph then the estimated stopping distance will be around 12m (or 40 feet), but if you’re driving faster on a motorway at 70mph then the stopping distance is 96m (or 315 feet).

It is important to note that the stopping distance will increase the faster you drive and the wetter the road is. This is because it takes time to process what’s happening before you start braking.

What affects braking distance?

In a well-maintained car with good weather and road conditions, you should leave the recommended distance, such as 23m (or 75 feet) when driving at 30mph. While speed increases the braking distance, there are also other factors that can increase it too.

There are five main factors that can influence and increase braking distance. These are brakes, tyres, weather conditions, road conditions and weight of the vehicle.

Brakes

Braking distance is affected by the condition of the car’s brakes so it is crucial to keep them in good working order. If sufficiently maintained, then it allows you to keep control and steer while braking. In addition, if you have worn suspension, this will also increase your braking distance and affect the braking system performance.

Tyres

Braking distance depends on the tread pattern and rubber of the tyres. Different tyres have different wet and dry grip capabilities. On new tyres, you can check the grip rating on the label; this typically goes from A (the best) to G (the worst).

It is essential to check whether the tyres are worn and what the tyre tread is, not only to ensure that they’re legal to drive on, but also because it affects the braking distance. Alongside this, the braking distance is also affected by the tyre pressure. Both under and over-inflation will increase it.

Weather conditions

The weather plays a massive role in stopping distance, if the road is wet or icy then this will significantly increase the braking distance. When wet, always double the gap between your car and the one in front. If icy, leave an even bigger gap.

Road conditions

The condition of the road is important, if the road surface is damaged or muddy, then this will increase the braking distance.

Vehicle weight

Depending on the weight of the vehicle, this will also increase the braking distance, especially if the car is heavy.

Contact Longbridge Tyres 

If you’re interested in the services of a premium tyre dealer in the Birmingham and Solihull areas, then look no further than Longbridge Tyres. We are a local and independent dealership who supply new tyres, replacement tyres and performance tyres for all types of vehicles. You can contact us today by calling 0121 457 7582 or through filling out our online contact form.