Factors That Affect Your Braking Distance and How to Address Them

It can be easy to assume that your braking distance is the period it takes for your car to reach a complete halt after noticing an obstacle ahead. However, this is better known as the stopping distance which is different from braking distance. As such, it is imperative to differentiate between the two. When the brain initially registers that there’s an obstacle ahead which you need to react to, your car will continue to travel between this moment and when you hit the brakes. The distance here is known as thinking distance, which should be added to the braking distance. By doing so, you can calculate your stopping distance. Given the fact that your reaction time adds to the braking distance, it is important to shorten it as much as possible by improving your concentration on the road and keeping distractions such as phones away. However, there is still one major question left to answer. What affects your braking distance? Well, there are numerous factors that come into play, most of which have to do with the vehicle itself as you will notice below. You could need to take action, from considering new brake pads to a clutch replacement. For each issue mentioned in this read, we have discussed what you can do to improve it.

Vehicle’s Speed

This is perhaps the most obvious braking distance factor. The faster the vehicle is travelling, the longer it will take to stop once you have applied the brakes. This is one of the major reasons why it is important to stay within the speed limit at all times. Fortunately, the Highway Code has examples of the official braking distances. According to the figures, driving at 20 mph potentially leaves you with a 6-metre braking distance. For 30 mph, this distance could double to 14 metres. As you can see, this distance increases depending on your speed, going as far as 75 metres if you are clocking in at 70 mph. That’s an extremely big distance, and keep in mind that there are other factors that come into play in regards to braking distance, simply meaning that these numbers are far from accurate.

The Tyres

When did you last replace your car tyres? If you are having difficulty remembering, then you should be concerned. The quality of your car’s tyres has an effect on your braking distance as well. The tread depth of the tyres, while on the road, in most cases exceed the set minimum of 1.6 mm. But to what extent? Well, the issue has been clarified by (One? query: delete?) Michelin tyres, showing that when you brake to reduce your speed from 56 mph to 43mph, even 1.0 bar drop in your tyres’ air pressure could increase the braking distance by 5 metres.

Brake Pads & Rotors

Your car probably has a wear indicator, which is a metal piece attached to the brake pad. As the pad wears off as a result of repeated use, the piece will touch the brake rotor and give a sharp squeaking noise. This is an indicator that you need to replace the brake pads. If you see deep circular marks or indents on the rotors, you should have them fixed or replaced by an auto repair expert. Even what may seem like minor leaks or cracks in the pads can have a substantial effect on your braking efficiency.

Driving Conditions

Of course, your driving behaviour is bound to play a vital role in the braking distance. So, before you get on the road, it is imperative that you assess the weather conditions as well as the terrain you will face during your drive. Then ensure that you maintain a speed that is ideal for the conditions out there. Here, you should not just consider the speed limit. For example, you need to tailor your speed in reaction to unfriendly conditions like heavy rain. Research shows that wet weather has the potential to double your braking distance, while ice or snow could multiply it by up to 10 depending on your speed. All these are things that you should seriously consider when it comes to driving safely.