Most people assume that braking distance refers to the time it takes for the vehicle to reach a complete stop once there is a hazard ahead. This actually refers to the stopping distance and there is a huge distinction between the two. When you notice a road obstacle requiring you to react, your vehicle still continues moving between when you become aware of the obstacle and when you apply the brakes.
The distance covered during this time is the thinking distance and should be added to the braking distance, allowing you to calculate the stopping distance. Your reaction time is also part of this distance. You can make your reaction time shorter by increasing your concentration. You should remove any distractions like mobile phones and be aware of your surroundings when you are on the road.
However, there is still a debate on what affects your braking distance, the remaining part of the equation. Well, there are many things that fall under this bit, including the car itself. Here’s what you need to know.
1. The Speed of Your Car
If you are driving a fast car, it will take a while before it comes to a complete stop when you apply the brakes. That’s why you need to drive within the speed limit at all times. You can also check the Highway Code to know the official braking distances that are applicable to you.
For instance, if you are driving at 20m/h, you have a 6-metre braking distance. It can easily double to 14 metres if you are driving at a speed of 30m/h. Note that the braking distance can increase with a higher speed. Take an instance where you are braking at a speed of 70m/h. You will only have a braking distance of 75 metres. That’s a huge distance – and don’t forget all the other factors mentioned below that might come into play besides the distance.
2. The Brake Pads and Rotors
Your vehicle should have a wear indicator. It is a piece of metal attached to the brake pad. When your brake pad material wears off because of repeated use, the metal piece should start touching the brake rotor and start producing a sharp squeaky sound. This is a sign that you need to replace your brake pads.
You can visit the nearest repair garage, such as Bromley Garage Services, to replace the rotors if there are any deep marks or indents on them. It might look like a minor crack or leak but it will cause a significant drag when you brake your vehicle.
3. The Tyres
When did you last replace the tyres on your vehicle? If you don’t know the answer to this, you should be concerned. Note that the quality of your vehicle’s tyres will also come into play when calculating the braking distance. When you are driving, the tread depth of your vehicle tyres should always exceed 1.6mm, the legal minimum.
One of the top tyre manufacturers, Michelin, did a test to reveal that when you brake, your vehicle’s speed drops from 56m/h to 43m/h. If there is reduced tyre pressure, even about 1.0 bar, it will significantly increase the braking distance by at least 5 metres.
4. The Driving Conditions
The way you drive also plays a crucial part in your braking distance. Before you get behind the wheel and get on the road, you need to do a proper assessment of the terrain and the weather conditions on your journey. Make sure you maintain the proper speed for these conditions to avoid any accidents while on the road.
Of course, you need to consider a lot more factors than the speed alone. Make sure your driving speed matches the weather conditions such as heavy rain. If there is wet weather, your braking distances could be affected. If there is ice or snow, it could multiply the braking distance.
In conclusion, you need to be safe on the road in the event of an accident. Take all these factors into account whenever you get behind the wheel to avoid any danger to yourself or other drivers on the road.