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Car Accident Lawyer Discusses the Stopping Distance Formula

Car Accident Lawyer Discusses the Stopping Distance Formula

New York Car Accident Lawyer at Frekhtman & Associates examines the stopping distance formula. The energy of motion of a car is responsible for the destructiveness of car accidents. It’s the reason parking lot accidents bend fenders and high-speed collisions on the highway demolish cars. This energy also increases with the square of your speed. Doubling your speed from 30 mph to 60 mph for example, quadruples the destructive potential of a collision.

This is why your ability to rapidly slow down is so important. If you can halve your speed before an impact, the destructive consequences reduce by one-quarter. This can mean the difference between surviving the accident unscathed or losing one’s life. If you succeed in bringing your car to a full stop, then the incident becomes nothing more than a close call that doesn’t even affect your day.

The difference between a close call and a fatality depends entirely on how quickly you can stop your car. However, there is more to this than having good brakes as will be revealed by the stopping distance formula.

The Stopping Distance Formula

The stopping distance from the time you see a hazard to the time your car stops is equal to:

Perception Distance + Reaction Distance + Braking Distance

The perception distance. This is the distance traveled during the time required for the brain to signal your leg muscles (via nerve impulses) to hit the brakes after your eyes see a road hazard. How quickly this happens depends on your alertness level. An alert person perceives the danger in about 3/4 of a second. In this amount of time, a car moving at 60 mph travels 66 feet. Fatigue, alcohol, and distraction significantly increase this time. Cell phone calls can prevent the brain from ever processing the visual signal from the eyes. This means you are blind to the hazard even though your eyes are looking at it. As a consequence, you never brake at all.

The reaction distance. This is the distance traveled during the time required for the brain’s signal to reach your leg muscles and for your leg to let up on the gas and hit the brake pedal. For the average alert person, this is about 3/4 of a second. This adds another 66 feet to the stopping distance. Fatigue and alcohol increases this distance.

The braking distance. In dry pavement conditions, the braking distance for the average car traveling at 60 mph is 180 feet. This distance increases on wet pavement and with poorly maintained brakes or tires.

The total stopping distance is 66 + 66 + 180 = 312 feet. Human factors contribute 132/312 = 42% to the overall stopping distance.

Safety Tips

Look further ahead to spot hazards sooner so that you have more time to react, and drive at slower speeds to decrease your stopping distance. In addition, keep your car well maintained, drive while well rested, and keep your focus on your driving.

If you were injured in a car accident, get the help of an experienced car accident lawyer who will advise you on your legal options. Contact us today at Frekhtman & Associates.