So, what are the differences between the Thinking Distance, Braking Distance and Stopping Distance?

Thinking Distance

The Thinking Distance is the time it takes for you to activate your brakes, and the distance you have travelled before they start to affect the speed of the car.

Tip: Thinking Distance is appropriately 1 foot for every mph you are travelling at. So for example, if you are travelling at 30mph then your thinking distance is approximately 30 feet.

Braking Distance

Braking Distance is the distance your car travels after you have applied the brakes until your vehicle comes to a stop. The faster you are travelling, the more momentum you have and the braking distance will therefore increase accordingly.

Stopping Distance

Stopping Distance is the total distance you travel before you hit the brakes plus the distance you travel while the brakes slow you down. Thinking + Braking Distance = Overall Stopping Distance.

How to remember Stopping Distances

Tip: 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:

20 mph x 2 = 40 feet

30 mph x 2.5 = 75 feet

40 mph x 3 = 120 feet

50 mph x 3.5 = 175 feet

60 mph x 4 = 240 feet

70 mph x 4.5 = 315 feet

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.