Stopping distance refers to the distance needed to bring a vehicle, whether it is a passenger car or a Truck and Trailer to a stop. What has to be added to all stopping distances is what is commonly referred to as the “thinking distance” or perception reaction time. This concept involves the time a driver needs to perceive the situation and decide how to reaction. Here is a simple example – you are traveling down a city street and a car pulls out in front of you. You must perceive that a car is now in your path and your reaction is to put on your brakes. Many situation are not so simple and involve more complex thinking, decisions and reaction.
The next aspect of stopping distance is the time it takes for a vehicle to come to a complete stop after application of the brakes. This is commonly called the braking distance. This distance is dependent in part on the road conditions and in part on the type of vehicle being driven. Trucks and Trailers take longer to stop than passenger cars.
Stopping distances are critical to the safety cushion – how much room you should allow between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you. More to come on this issue.