What factors affect stopping distance?

Published: 16-01-2024

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Stopping distance is one of the most important aspects to be considered when it comes to driving a car. The ability to stop your vehicle quickly can help you to avoid or significantly reduce damages from car accidents and, in some cases, save human lives. The type, class or technical condition of the vehicle are not the only factors that influence the stopping distance.


How do you brake in the rain?

Weather conditions are one of the most significant factors determining the stopping distance. The distance you need to stop on a dry road is shorter than that on a wet road. It is assumed that a wet surface extends the stopping distance by at least 50 percent. But when driving in conditions of snow and ice, the stopping distance can be even 10 times longer than that on a dry road.


How is your car?

The type of vehicle and its technical condition have a significant impact on the braking performance. Factors that may slow down braking include, among others, low-quality tires and poor condition of the braking system (low brake fluid, leaking or damaged brake lines, warped brake rotors, worn brake pads, etc.). The weight of the vehicle also plays an important role in determining the stopping distance.


The slower, the safer

Driving speed has the greatest impact on the stopping distance. The braking distance is directly proportional to the square of the speed. The slower you drive, the greater the chance of stopping the car safely. By reducing your speed, you also reduce the strain on the braking system and tires.


What is the road made of?

Braking efficiency also depends on the type of surface on which the car is moving. The best braking performance is obtained on dry concrete pavement, and bituminous (asphalt) pavement shows slightly worse parameters. For economic reasons, bitumen (asphalt) is the most commonly used road construction material worldwide. You need to be extra careful when braking on surfaces with reduced adhesion.


Driver performance

The factors listed above are very important in the braking process. However, the driver plays the primary role here. How quickly the car stops depends on the driver’s skills and reaction time. But just pressing the brake pedal is not enough. It is very important to “feel” the car and understand how to brake optimally to minimize the risk of vehicle skidding or rollover.



Many factors affect the stopping distance, but it seems that the driver and speed are the most important in this respect. Therefore, road safety depends mainly on drivers and their attentiveness and ability to anticipate possible hazards.


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