Articles Tagged ‘stopping distances - Brake the road safety charity’

‘GO 20’ interactive quiz launched to promote the benefits of 20mph limits

30th November 2015

Brake, the road safety charity
news@brake.org.uk

Brake, the road safety charity, has produced a free interactive e-learning resource to promote the benefits of 20mph limits, and to raise awareness about the importance of people in cars slowing down around homes, schools and shops to protect more vulnerable road users. The ‘GO 20’ interactive resource can be used by community groups, educators, road safety professionals, or anyone who wants to find out more about how 20mph limits can benefit their community.

As shown in Brake’srecent research on 20mph limits, reducing limits from 30 to 20mph has been shown to reduce casualties [1] because drivers have more time to react to unexpected events and emergencies. At 30mph, if a child runs out three car lengths ahead, you will hit the child at almost full speed, with a high chance of killing or injuring them. At 20mph you should be able to stop in time. Children also benefit from slower speed limits because they struggle to judge the speed of vehicles over 20mph, so often make mistakes crossing roads with faster traffic [2].

A 2014 Brake survey found that eight in 10 people (78%) think 20mph should be the norm around schools, on residential streets, and in village, town and city centres [3]. Brake is calling on local authorities to listen to public opinion and implement widespread 20mph limits in their own areas [4]; and on drivers to slow down to 20mph to keep vulnerable road users safe.

The open-access ‘GO 20’ resource challenges users to test their understanding of 20mph limits, and can be used to facilitate discussion and present the facts on the importance of drivers slowing their speed. Brake is especially encouraging community campaigners to use the‘GO 20’ resource to raise public awareness and inspire local authorities to introduce 20mph limits in their areas.

Access the resource online now atbrake.org.uk/go20interactive.

Gary Rae, director of communications and campaigns said: “Everyone should be able to walk and cycle in their communities without being put in danger. Reducing speed limits from 30 to 20mph where we live, work and play protects the most vulnerable – children, older people, disabled people and anyone on bicycle or on foot. Brake’s new ‘GO 20’ e-learning resource shows the benefits of driving more slowly. It’s a powerful tool that demonstrates how 20mph limits put people first, creating safer streets and healthier, happier communities. The resource is freely available to road safety practitioners, campaigners and educators to help them talk about a really important issue, because the fact is, speed kills.”

The facts

Every day five children and 20 adults are killed or seriously injured while walking or cycling on UK roads [5]. Every casualty is devastating.

Speed is a critical factor in all road crashes and casualties. Reducing traffic speeds is crucial to road safety. It has been estimated that for every 1mph reduction in average speeds on urban streets, crash rates fall by an average of 6% [6].

The faster they drive, the less chance drivers have of being able to stop in time in an emergency. And if they can’t stop in time, they will hit with greater impact, increasing the chances of causing serious injury or death. A vehicle travelling at 20mph (32km/h) can stop in time to avoid a child running out three car-lengths in front. The same vehicle travelling at 30mph (48km/h) will not be able to stop in time, and will still be travelling at 28mph (45km/h) when they hit the child [7].

When traffic is slower and roads are safer, people feel much freer to run, walk or cycle. Brake surveys have found that three in four schoolchildren (76%) would like to walk and cycle more, but worry that they might be run over while doing so [8]; and that three in four (74%) UK parents say their family would walk more if the safety of nearby roads was improved [9].

When traffic is slowed to 20mph in communities, research shows people are friendlier with their neighbours, feel safer in their area, and take part in more community activities [10][11].

Read more atwww.brake.org.uk/facts and download ourresearch report on 20mph limits.

Brake’s campaigns

Through itsGO 20 campaign, Brake is part of a broad coalition of charities calling for 20mph limits to become the norm in our cities, towns and villages. Ultimately, we want the government to change the national default urban speed limit from 30 to 20mph. In the meantime, we are calling on local authorities to GO 20 by implementing widespread 20mph limits in their own areas; and on drivers to help make our roads safer by slowing down to 20mph or below around homes, schools and shops, even where the limit is still 30mph.

About Brake

Brake is a national road safety charity that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies. We do this through nationalcampaigns,community education,services for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November,Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider ofsupport to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs. Brake was founded in the UK in 1995, and now has domestic operations in the UK andNew Zealand, and works globally to promote action on road safety.

Follow Brake on TwitterFacebook, orThe Brake Blog.


Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.

End notes

With many thanks to Rod King, Founder & Campaign Director of 20's Plenty (www.20splenty.org), for his assistance with the interactive resource.

[1]20mph speed reduction initiative, Scottish Executive Central Research Unit, 2001

[2]Reduced sensitivity to visual looming inflates the risk posed by speeding vehicles when children try to cross the road, University of London, 2011

[3]Eight in 10 back 20mph limits as charity takes campaign to parliament, Brake, 2014

[4]GO 20: Towards changing the urban default speed limit to 20mph, Brake, 2015

[5]Reported road casualties Great Britain 2014 annual report, Department for Transport, 2015

[6] Speed, Speed Limits and Accidents, Transport Research Laboratory, 1994

[7] Stopping distances,The Highway Code, Driving Standards Agency, 2015

[8]Kids want to get active: thousands march for safer streets, Brake and webuyanycar.com, 2014

[9]Bereaved family back Beep Beep! initiative for safer roads for kids as survey reveals parents’ fears from fast traffic, Brake and Churchill, 2012

[10] Hart, J. and Parkhurst, G.,Driven to excess: Impacts of motor vehicles on the quality of life of residents of three streets in Bristol UK, World Transport Policy & Practice, 17 (2), 2011

[11]The contribution of good public spaces to social integration in urban neighbourhoods, Swiss Natural Science Foundation, 2006

Almost three quarters of drivers take life-threatening risks on icy roads

News from Brake
Immediate issue: 8 January 2016 

news@brake.org.uk

  • Seven in ten (71%) drivers surveyed have dangerously poor knowledge when it comes to winter stopping distances
  • Two thirds (66%) of drivers believe others do not leave enough space to stop safely
  • More than half of drivers questioned (54%) think other drivers travel too fast in poor weather conditions

As the weather is forecast to turn colder and snow predicted in many parts of the UK next week, a new study is highlighting the risks too many drivers are taking in bad weather. The survey released today (8 January 2016), carried out on behalf of Brake and Direct Line, reveals 71% of drivers questioned do not know how much longer it will take their vehicle to stop in icy conditions. This means they could be putting other road users, and themselves, at risk by under-estimating the distance. 

11% of drivers think the stopping distance is twice as long in icy weather, a third think it’s four times as long and 27% think it should be five times as long. Just 23% of drivers know that the actual figure is up to 10 times as long, with 6% being even more cautious and believing it is up to 20 times as long.    

That means, while on a fine day, if you are driving at 30 mph and need to brake immediately it will take you 23 metres to stop, in icy conditions it could take up to 230 metres - that’s the length of two-full size football pitches [i]and, of course, the faster you are travelling, the further that distance could be. 

Many drivers also do not know enough about stopping distances in wet weather.

More than one in five drivers (22%) fail to check the gap between their car and the car in front, and another fifth (21%) do not leave a large enough gap, meaning that, if they have to brake suddenly, it could lead to a serious crash. Brake recommends that drivers leave at least four seconds between their vehicle and the vehicle in front in wet weather.

More than half of drivers questioned (54%) think that other drivers travel too fast in poor weather conditions, and two thirds (66%) believe other drivers do not leave enough space to stop.

This is why Brake and Direct Line are encouraging drivers to adjust their driving style to the conditions of the road as temperatures drop, and sleet, snow, frost and ice are all forecast.   

Gary Rae, campaigns and communications director for Brake, the road safety charity, said: “Our roads are at their most dangerous during the winter months, so drivers must be at their most cautious. We don’t want any more families to be torn apart by crashes caused by drivers not adapting to the conditions. Ice, snow, heavy rain and fog make driving incredibly risky; stopping distances double in wet weather and can increase up to ten-fold in ice and snow. If snow is forecast, we urge people to think about whether their journey is necessary, but if you get caught out driving in bad weather the critical thing is to slow right down and keep your distance, bearing in mind it will take you much longer to stop in an emergency, and to react in the first place, if visibility is reduced.

Rob Miles, director of motor trading at Direct Line, said: “Even if you feel confident driving in icy or snowy conditions, others may not be able to keep full control of their car and may not be observing the correct stopping distances. If you need to drive, make sure that you take it slow and steady and don’t panic or slam on the brakes. Also, make sure you’ve de-iced your car fully before you drive off as restricted views out of the windows cause needless and preventable accidents. If it’s not safe or you feel too nervous, don’t make the journey.

Case study

Sheila Quinn lost her 24-year-old son Paul Dobson in a bad weather crash in December 2007. He was one of four passengers in a car when the driver lost control on an icy road. Two of the passengers died, and the driver received a five-and-a-half-year sentence for causing death by dangerous driving.

Sheila said: “It’s shocking that people are still not aware of how to drive safely in winter despite messages going out each year. A few moments of showing off can leave families like ours with a lifetime of pain. Living every day without Paul is a struggle. My heart sinks when I’m in my car and I see drivers far too close to each other and continuing to tail gate in poor weather conditions. My younger son is now 18 and not yet driving but does now go out with his friends in cars and it’s so frightening. I would urge all drivers to slow right down and take extra care in bad weather, so no more lives are ruined. I would hate any other family to go through what we have been through and are still going through. It’s a life sentence and it doesn’t get easier."

Audio of Sheila’s story available on request. 

THE FACTS: Winter driving

•           In wet weather, stopping distances more than double. On top of this, the rain and spray from other vehicles make it harder to see hazards.

•           In icy or snowy weather, stopping distances can be 10 times greater. Even if you think roads have been treated, it’s essential to drive slowly and keep well back from other road users.

•           The responsibility for clearing the snow and gritting most roads, including local streets, falls to the local highway authority. However, given financial and resource pressures it is not possible for all roads to be treated. Around 40% of roads are gritted. This means a driver can never assume that a road has been gritted.

ADVICE FOR DRIVERS: The A,B,C of winter driving

•           AVOID driving in snow and other treacherous conditions. Never set off when it’s snowing or forecast to, and avoid driving if you possibly can in other bad conditions like fog, heavy rain and ice. Consider alternatives such as walking or public transport if available. If you drive to work, speak to your employer about working from home when weather is very bad, especially if you live in a rural area prone to snow or floods.

•          BE PREPARED. Make sure your vehicle is well maintained, and tyres have a tread depth of at least 3mm. Check forecasts and plan your route to avoid roads likely to be more risky and allow plenty of time. Pack a winter driving kit in case you’re caught out. This should include: an ice scraper or de-icer; torch; cloths; a blanket and warm clothes; food and drink; first-aid kit; spade; warning triangle; and high-visibility vest. Always take a fully charged phone in case of emergencies, but never use it when driving.

•           CAREFUL AND CAUTIOUS DRIVING. If you do get caught driving in bad conditions, you need to slow right down increase the distance behind the vehicle in front. In rain your stopping distance doubles, so keep a four second gap. In snow or icy conditions stopping distances increase by as much as 10 times so you need to drop right back. Keep a careful look out for people on foot and bikes who may be harder to spot. Avoid harsh braking and acceleration and carry out manoeuvres slowly and with extra care. 

NOTES TO EDITORS

ABOUT THE REPORT

The survey consisted of 1,000 drivers and was conducted by Surveygoo

FULL SURVEY RESULTS

Q1: Do you drive when there is snow or you expect it to snow?

  • 10% said, “No, I avoid driving in snow”.
  • 13% said, “Yes, but only if it's the only viable transport option”.
  • 12% said, “Yes, but only in an emergency”.
  • 29% said, “Yes, but only in light snow”.
  • 36% said, “Yes, I will drive in snow”.

The risks of driving increase in winter weather, particularly in icy or snowy weather. The Highway Code is clear that drivers should not drive in these conditions unless the journey is essential.

Q2: Do you think drivers reduce their speed enough for safety in poor weather conditions such as ice, snow, fog or heavy rain?

  • 54% said, “No, most drivers drive too fast in poor weather”.
  • 46% said, “Yes, most drivers slow down enough for safety”.

Most drivers (54%) believe that other drivers go too fast in poor weather. Older drivers, who are more likely to have more experience driving, are more prone to think that others are driving too fast.

Q3: Do you think drivers leave enough space between them and the vehicle in front in poor weather conditions such as ice, snow, fog or heavy rain?

  • 66% say “No, most drivers travel too close”
  • 34% say “Yes, most drivers leave enough space.”

Two-thirds of drivers (66%) think that most drivers travel too close to the vehicle in front in poor weather. Older drivers, more likely to be more experienced on roads, are more likely to feel that other drivers are not leaving enough space to be safe, with 85% of drivers over 65 reporting this view.

Q4: How many seconds do you leave between your vehicle and the vehicle in front in wet weather?

  • 1% say at least one second
  • 6% say at least two seconds
  • 14% say at least three seconds
  • 19% say at least four seconds
  • 38% say at least five seconds
  • 22% say that they don’t usually count a gap behind the vehicle in front

Brake recommends that drivers leave four seconds between their vehicle and the vehicle in front in wet weather. More than one in five drivers (22%) fail to check their gap, and another fifth (21%) do not leave a large enough gap, meaning that, if they have to brake suddenly, it could lead to a serious crash.

Q5: How much do you think stopping distances increase in icy conditions?

  • 11% say twice as long
  • 33% say four times as long
  • 27% say five times as long
  • 23% say 10 times as long
  • 6% say 20 times as long

In icy conditions, stopping distances are up to ten times as long as in dry conditions. Only a quarter of drivers (23%) know this, with the majority under-estimating the distance, meaning that many drivers may be unwittingly putting themselves and other road users at risk in icy conditions.

DRIVER ADVICE

http://www.brake.org.uk/info-and-resources/facts-advice-research/road-safety-advice/21-facts-a-resources/resources/946-weather

About Brake

Brake is a national road safety charity, founded in 1995, that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies. We do this through national campaignscommunity educationservices for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs. 

Follow Brake on TwitterFacebook, or The Brake Blog

Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties. 

About Direct Line

Started in 1985, Direct Line became the first UK insurance company to use the telephone as its main channel of communication. It provides motor, home, travel and pet insurance cover direct to customers by phone or on-line.

Direct Line general insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Direct Line and UK Insurance limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc.

Customers can find out more about Direct Line products or get a quote by calling 0345 246 3761 or visiting www.directline.com

Brake comments on dangerous driving conditions sweeping the UK

News from Brake
Wednesday, 17 January 2018
news@brake.org.uk
 
Heavy snow and ice has swept across Scotland, Northern Ireland and the north of England making driving conditions extremely dangerous and stranding hundreds of people overnight.

Commenting on the situation, Joshua Harris, Director of Campaigns for Brake, the road safety charity, said: “We urge caution for all road users and encourage drivers currently stranded on roads across the UK to follow the advice of local police and rescue services.
 
“Ice, snow and heavy rain significantly increase the risk of crashes on our roads, with stopping distances increasing up to ten-fold and poor visibility blinding drivers to upcoming hazards [1].
 
“For those yet to travel, we strongly urge that you avoid driving in these conditions and make alternate arrangements. If you must drive, be prepared, drive carefully and cautiously and be extra vigilant for people and hazards.”
 
[ENDS]
 
Notes to editors:
 
 
Snow and ice: follow these tips if you get caught driving in snow and ice:
  • use the highest gear possible to avoid wheel spin, but taking care not to let your speed creep up.
  • brake gently to avoid locking the wheels. Get into a low gear earlier than normal and allow the speed of the vehicle to fall gradually.
  • take corners very slowly and steer gently and steadily to avoid skidding. Never brake if the vehicle skids, instead, ease off the accelerator and steer slightly into the direction of the skid until you gain control.
  • If stuck in snow, do not spin the wheels or rev the vehicle, as this will dig the vehicle further in. Instead, put the vehicle into as high a gear as possible and slowly manoeuvre the vehicle lightly forwards and backwards to gently creep out.
  • if you are stuck fast, stay in the vehicle unless help is visible within 100 yards. Do not abandon your vehicle as this can hold up rescue vehicles.
 
About Brake
 
Brake is a national road safety and sustainable transport charity, founded in 1995, that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies.
 
We do this through national campaignscommunity educationservices for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.
 
Follow Brake on TwitterFacebook, or The Brake Blog.
 
Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.

EYP-files

To download offline versions, please right click the link below and click 'save link as'. This will then download a .swf shockwave flash file. If your preferences are not already set to automatically do this, you will need to select to open these files using any flash enabled browser such as Chrome or Internet Explorer. You will be able to open the file in a browser without access to an internet connection.

stopping distance calculator

morning after drink drive calculator

New figures show Highway Code falls short on stopping distances

News from Brake
Tuesday 25 July, 2017
news@brake.org.uk

Stopping distances in the UK Highway Code should be increased because drivers' thinking time has been underestimated, according to figures obtained by Brake, the road safety charity.

Brake asked TRL (Transport Research Laboratory) to provide evidence on the time taken by car drivers to perceive, recognise and react to emergency situations. TRL referred to academic literature and concluded that the average thinking time is 1.5 seconds − more than double the 0.67 seconds set out in the Highway Code (see table 1).

This means that average total stopping distance − including thinking and braking distance − is an extra 2.75 car lengths (11 metres) at 30mph and an extra 3.75 car lengths (15 metres) at 40mph compared with the distances used in the Code. This difference rises to an additional 6.25 car lengths (25 metres) at 70mph.

Table 1: overall average stopping distances (average car length = 4m)

Speed

20mph

30 mph

40 mph

50 mph

60 mph

70 mph

Brake/TRL study

19m

34m

51m

71m

95m

121m

UK Highway Code

12m

23m

36m

53m

73m

96m

Difference

7m

11m

15m

18m

22m

25m

 

See a graphic showing the differences here.

Brake is calling on the Government to increase stopping distances in its next update to the Highway Code.

Jason Wakeford, spokesman for Brake, the road safety charity, said: "These figures suggest stopping distances taught to new drivers in the Highway Code fall woefully short. Even though car braking technology has improved in recent years, the majority of the overall stopping distance at most speeds is actually made up of the time taken to perceive the hazard and react.

"The research shows that average thinking time is more than double that set out in the Highway Code. A true understanding of how long it takes to stop a car in an emergency is one of the most important lessons for new drivers. Understanding true average thinking time reminds all drivers how far their car will travel before they begin to brake  − as well as highlighting how any distraction in the car which extends this time, like using a mobile phone, could prove fatal.

"Brake is calling on the Government to increase the stopping distances in the Highway Code as a matter of urgency."

[ENDS]

Notes to editors:

Cuerden, R. (2017). The mechanics of emergency braking. Transport Research Laboratory: http://www.brake.org.uk/assets/docs/pdf/The-mechanics-of-emergency-braking-2017.pdf

About Brake

Brake is a national road safety and sustainable transport charity, founded in 1995, that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies.

We do this through national campaignscommunity educationservices for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.

Follow Brake on TwitterFacebook, or The Brake Blog.

Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.

Pryers Winter Driving

Stay safe this winter

The Met Office has predicted an Arctic freeze and up to eight inches of snow being expected in some parts of the UK this Christmas. Snow fall, high winds and gales will lead to a short period of blizzard conditions thanks to an Arctic maritime air mass which will spread across the country.

The temperature change will come after what has been a particularly mild November, with some saying this has been the warmest November in 21 years.

Temperature and weather changes have a big effect on driving conditions. The driving surface, traffic flow and the automobile itself are all affected by changes in the weather. This not only affects the ability of people to travel but it can have a massive impact on productivity.

Personal injury specialists Pryers Solicitors deal with a lot of road traffic collisions. Jenny Barton for Pryers Solicitors said: “We are used to having to come in after an incident has taken place and fight to make sure the injured party receive all they are entitled to. However, we want to help make people aware of what they can do to avoid having an accident in the first place, which is why we produced this handy infographic so you know how to make sure you and your car are best equipped to get to your end destination safely.”

Plan ahead

De-icing a vehicle can take up to 10 minutes. The windscreen, other windows and mirrors need to be cleared fully, as driving with poor visibility is illegal. Avoid pouring hot or boiling water onto your windscreen as this could cause the glass to crack resulting in a significant repair bill. Ensure you remove snow and/or thick frost from all the vehicle’s lights, as if left on this can reduce the effectiveness of the lights making it harder for other road users to see you. Carefully monitor your fuel and windscreen wash levels to make sure you are not going to run out mid journey.

Take care of you

It is important to make sure you are carrying the right equipment with you, including a mobile with a full battery. Make sure you have warm waterproof shoes and clothing in case you end up needing to walk any distance. Also carry a spare blanket, a torch, and a first aid kit. Hot food and drinks is also a good idea if you are planning on a long journey.

Driving

When driving in snowy or icy conditions, it is vital that you stay alert and attentive to the road. Reduce your speed and increase the gap between you and the car in front. Remember any sudden or rough movements could lead to your vehicle sliding. If your vehicle begins to slide turn into it until you get your car back under control.

Most importantly pay attention to weather warnings and before setting off, ask yourself how vital the journey is – if you don’t urgently need to travel then don’t. Take a look at our inforgraphic below, or click here to download.

winter driving infographic

 

Speed, speed limits and stopping distances

slow2strap

Key facts

  • Breaking the speed limit or travelling too fast for conditions was recorded (by police at crash scenes) as a contributory factor of 24% of fatal crashes in 2016 [1];
  • Drivers with one speeding violation annually are twice as likely to crash as those with none [2];
  • A Brake and Direct Line survey found that four in 10 (40%) of drivers admitted that they sometimes driver at 30mph in a 20mph zones [3];
  • More than a quarter of drivers surveyed (26%) admitted to ‘regularly’ speeding in areas designed to keep children and other road users safe. [4] 

Introduction

Speed is a critical factor in all road crashes and casualties. Driving is unpredictable and if something unexpected happens on the road ahead – such as a child stepping out from between parked cars – it is a driver’s speed that will determine whether they can stop in time and, if they can’t stop, how hard they will hit.

Reducing and managing traffic speeds is crucial to road safety. Breaking the speed limit or travelling too fast for conditions is recorded (by police at crash scenes) as a contributory factor in almost one in four (24%) fatal crashes in Britain[5]. This is arguably a gross underestimate, because whether or not a vehicle is judged to have been speeding or going too fast for conditions, the fact it was involved in a collision means it was going too fast to have stopped in time. In this way, speed is always a contributory factor, albeit often in combination with other causes: no one was ever killed by a stationary vehicle.

Dutch research has found drivers with one speeding violation annually are twice as likely to crash as those with none, and this increases further for drivers who commit repeated speed violations [6].

makethepledgeTake action: Make the Brake Pledge to stay under speed limits, slow to 20mph by schools, homes and shops, slow right down for bends, brows and bad weather, and speak out for slowing down.
 
GO20researchreportLearn more:Read our major research report on the extent of 20mph limits in Great Britain and the barriers faced by local councils in implementing them.
 
 
go20quizsma  Test your knowledge:Try our GO 20 quiz

Stopping distances

Stopping distances include the distance travelled while the driver notices a hazard and applies the brakes (thinking distance), and while the vehicle comes to a full stop from its initial speed (braking distance). The government's official estimates of stopping distances for cars are shown below. [7]

stopping-distances

Source: Department for Transport, 2007

The distances above are based on a reaction time of 0.67 seconds, which assumes the driver is alert, concentrating and not impaired. Driving when tired, distracted or impaired significantly increases reaction times, so the thinking distances above should be regarded as minimums.

The braking distance depends on how fast the vehicle was travelling before the brakes were applied, and is proportional to the square of the initial speed. That means even small increases in speed mean significantly longer braking distances. Braking distances are much longer for larger and heavier vehicles, and in wet or icy conditions, so again these figures are a minimum [8].

Technology such as anti-lock brakes and stability control are designed to enable greater control over the vehicle, not shorten stopping distances. There may be a very small reduction in braking distance with modern technology, but not enough to significantly affect your overall stopping distance [9].

Whatever technology a vehicle has, the basic fact remains that the faster you drive, the longer your stopping distance, and therefore the less chance you have of stopping in time in an emergency.

Learn more: Read our advice for drivers on staying slow and safe.

Impact speed

Driving faster not only lessens drivers’ chances of being able to stop in time to avoid hitting someone or something. It also means if they can’t stop in time, they will hit with greater impact. The greater the impact, the greater the chances of causing serious injury or death.

A vehicle travelling at 20mph (32km/h) would stop in time to avoid a child running out three car-lengths in front. The same vehicle travelling at 25mph (40km/h) would not be able to stop in time, and would hit the child at 18mph (29km/h). This is roughly the same impact as a child falling from an upstairs window. The diagram below illustrates the impact at various speeds. The greater the impact speed, the greater the chance of death. A pedestrian hit at 30mph has a very significant one in five chance of being killed. This rises significantly to a one in three chance if they are hit at 35mph [10].

Roof fall distances

Speed and mass are the properties of energy exchanged in a road collision in the form of kinetic energy, the level of energy exchanged has a significant impact on the severity of the crash. It is believed that the exchanged of energy can be calculated equal to half the vehicle’s mass times the vehicle speed squared; which means that even smaller increases in speed can lead to an increase in impact severity [11].

Speed limits

Speed limits on local roads in the UK are set by local authorities according to government guidance that they are “evidence-led” and aimed at developing a road environment which is safer and fit for purpose [12].

Speed limits on all other UK roads follow national standards. Speed limits are limits, not targets – they are set as the top speed for any particular road, and it is frequently safer to travel at much lower speeds, such as in bad weather, poor visibility, and where there are (or could potentially be) people on foot and bicycle, especially children.

Unfortunately, many drivers do not always obey speed limits. A Brake and Direct Line survey found that four in 10 (40%) of drivers admitted that they sometimes driver at 30mph in a 20mph zones. More than a quarter of drivers surveyed (26%) admitted to ‘regularly’ speeding in areas designed to keep children and other road users safe. [13]

Effective speed management is considered central to a ‘safe system’ approach to road safety, crucial to reducing casualties and enabling walking and cycling. The safe system principle acknowledges that people can make mistakes behind the wheel and that there are known limits to ‘the capacity of the human body to absorb kinetic energy before harm occurs’. Within a safe system, effective speed management works holistically with vehicle design, road infrastructure and road user behaviour, to produce an overall safety effect greater than the sum of its parts. [14]

Learn more: Read our fact pages on speed limits in communitiessafe speeds on country roads, and motorway speeds.

Take action:Support Brake’s GO 20 campaign for slower speeds in towns, cities and villages, and Brake’s rural roads not racetracks campaign campaign for slower speeds on country roads.

More information


End notes

[1] Reported Road Casualties Great Britain: Annual Report 2016, Department for Transport, 2017, table RAS50008
[2] Crash involvement of motor vehicles in relationship to the number and severity of traffic offenses, SWOV, 2013
[3] Report on safe driving: speed, Brake and Direct Line, 2016
[4] Report on safe driving: speed, Brake and Direct Line, 2016
[5] Reported Road Casualties Great Britain: Annual Report 2016, Department for Transport, 2017, table RAS50008
[6] Crash involvement of motor vehicles in relationship to the number and severity of traffic offenses, SWOV, 2013
[7] The Highway Code: rule 126, Department for Transport, updated 2016
[8] Sokolvskji, E., Automobile braking and traction characteristics on the different road surfaces, 2010
[9] Benefit and Feasibility of a Range of New Technologies and Unregulated Measures in the fields of Vehicle Occupant Safety and Protection of Vulnerable Road Users, TRL, 2015
[10] Impact Speed and a Pedestrian’s Risk of Severe Injury or Death, the AAA, 2011
[11] Davis, Dr A., Essential evidence: kinetic energy management, Haddon’s matrix and road safety, Bristol City Council, 2015
[12] Working together to build a safer road system: road safety statement, Department for Transport, 2015
[13] Report on safe driving: speed, Brake and Direct Line, 2016
[14] Zero Road Deaths and Serious Injuries: leading a paradigm shift to a safe system, International Transport Forum, 2016


 Page last updated: November 2016

Stopping distances calculator

Stopping distances calculator

Most people have no idea how much longer it takes to stop at 30mph (48kph) and higher compared with at 20mph (32kph) or under. This tool can be used on your own or in groups of drivers and young people through an internet-connected whiteboard to help explain through the physics of speed the dangers of travelling above 20mph in built up areas.

stopping distances

Another way to demonstrate it is to discuss the below chart, which shows the effect of impact speeds through the comparison of a child falling out of a building. Download the physics of speed chart as a PDF.

You can also read our fact page on speed, speed limits and stopping distances and advice for drivers on speed for more on this subject.

speedphysics