How to calculate the braking distance in all weather conditions

When driving a vehicle in all weather conditions, you need to know the safe braking distances for the speeds you are most likely to travel. It will help you and other road users to stay safe on the roads. You also need to understand these distances to pass your theoretical exam.

We have tried to break down these details into workable, bite-sized parts that you understand. We can evaluate positively in the knowledge that you understand the stopping areas that occur in almost all circumstances that you are most likely to encounter as a driver at some point in your life.

Thinking distance vs. braking distance

Braking ranges are calculated by adding your thinking range (the time it takes you to process the reality it takes you to brake) to your braking range (the time it takes your car to stop after you put your foot on the brake pedal). The faster you travel, the higher your range.

According to the road code, the minimum thinking distances are as follows:

20mph – 6 meters

30mph-9 meters

40mph – 12 meters

50mph – 15 meters

60mph – 18 meters

70mph – 21 meters

The information on the thinking distance is based on a reaction time of 0.67 seconds, whereby the driver is assumed to look outside and concentrate. According to a study commissioned by the road safety organization Brake, the average thinking time for drivers is 1.5 seconds.

Your thinking range should normally not be affected by the weather unless conditions outside your car make it difficult to detect and respond to hazards. Your braking distance (and, for this reason, your overall braking distance) is greatly influenced by road conditions.

The road code states that typical braking areas under typical conditions are as follows:

20mph – 6 meters

30mph – 14 meters

40mph – 24 meters

50mph – 38 meters

60mph – 55 meters

70mph-75 meters

Anything that reduces the friction between your car’s tires and the road hurts your ability to stop quickly. Braking takes longer on damp or icy roads than on dry ground since it is more difficult to gain traction in these conditions.

How to determine the braking distance

It would be as follows:

20mph x 2 = 40 feet (12 meters)

30mph x 2.5 = 75 feet (23 meters)

40mph x 3 = 120 feet (36 meters)

50mph x 3.5 = 175 feet (53 meters)

60mph x 4 = 240 feet (73 meters)

70mph x 4.5 = 315 feet (95 meters)

There is a good and fast method to calculate the total braking distances. If you start at 20 miles per hour and then multiply by increasing periods of 0.5 for every 10 miles per hour increase in speed, you get the stopping area in feet. It can be easily converted to meters by dividing by 3.3.

Factors affecting the sphere of thinking.


Of course, the faster your car goes at the point where you see a risk, the more you will make a trip with the same reaction time compared to a lower driving speed. Therefore, it is important to leave a reasonable space, especially at higher speeds.


There can be several possible interruptions inside and outside the vehicle that can distract your attention and significantly increase your thinking distance. These can be other people in the car, the radio, other road users, or pedestrians. It would be best if you remained focused and in control of the vehicle.


Fatigue can kill; take a break.

We have all seen highway signs warning motorists about the risks of fatigue behind the wheel. Fatigue can affect the driver’s attention, awareness of worries, and reaction time to circumstances that develop before him. For longer journeys, taking a break every few hours is advisable to avoid getting too relaxed and tired behind the wheel.

What is the braking distance?

The braking area is when your vehicle stops from the moment you press the brake pedal. It is the second part of your total stopping range and follows your thinking range.

Elements that affect the braking distance.

Condition of the car.

The condition of your vehicle also plays an essential role in the effectiveness of stopping your vehicle. The condition of your tires and brakes is necessary for your braking distance. Excessively worn tires can increase the braking distance by about 40%.

These must be checked and maintained regularly. For this reason, we regularly check all costs for the registration office and, if necessary, replace parts and even the vehicles.

Weight in the car.

Due to the impulse that arises when driving at high speed, a much heavier car is more difficult to stop than a lighter car. However, your braking range should be the same; despite the vehicle’s weight, your braking range increases, leading to a longer overall range.

Road conditions.

Poorly maintained roads make it difficult to stop your vehicle. Loose components such as gravel offer little resistance to prevent you from moving forward, as do mud and dirt. These limit the contact between tires and a solid surface, limiting grip and the ability to stop.

Stop areas in different weather conditions.

Braking distances in the rain.

If you are driving in damp conditions or rain, the road code recommends that your entire braking range is at least twice as long as the range to stop on a dry surface.

There are two main factors for this. The first is a smoother wet road surface, which develops less tire adhesion to the road and increases the braking distance. In addition, adverse climatic conditions, such as heavy rainfall, can significantly reduce road visibility, likely increasing your braking response time.

Stop areas on the ice.

If you are driving on ice and snow, the road code recommends that your braking range be ten times higher than on a dry road.

It suggests that the formula for falling in frosty weather is:

Thinking range + (stopping range x10) = total stopping range.

If you drive 70 miles per hour on an icy road, you may need up to 771 m to stop your car. It is equivalent to half a mile or the length of 8 football fields.

Two-second loopholes in the law.

When driving, the basic rule is to leave a two-second gap between you and the vehicle in front, but different driving conditions can destroy this guesswork and put you and others at risk.

If you are currently taking driving lessons, chances are your driving instructor hayes has mentioned the two-second policy at some point. The easiest way to verify this is to recognize a landmark on the side of the road, perhaps a tree or a traffic sign. Count the time that the car in front of you passes at this point to the point where you pass it. Two seconds is the recommended minimum and will serve at any speed – remember, more than two seconds is always better than less.

For the Last 15 Years, throughout London, Sharan School of Motoring has earned a reputation for responsible and caring driving instruction. Wherever you live, with our professional and friendly local driving instructors, you’ll enjoy a relaxed, positive and encouraging environment as you start your driving lessons and learn to drive.

Zaheer Ahmed

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