Weather 101: Stopping Distances

Weather 101

Wet Leaves Lead to Treacherous Driving Conditions!

Now that the fall colors are past peak across the region, the leaves have fallen off the trees. While this can make a crisp morning run more beautiful, it can make driving on wet roads downright dangerous!

Your Best Friend on the Road…Friction!

You can thank the force of friction, more specifically static friction, for the fact that your tires stay on the road. Friction also helps you slow down and stop your vehicle. Remember that an object in motion will remain in motion unless acted on by an outside force (Newton’s Law of Inertia). In this case the outside force that slows down the vehicle is friction.

Stopping Distance, What is it?

Stopping distance simply put, is the amount of distance needed to bring your vehicle to a complete stop safely.

On dry roads the force of static friction is pretty high. This helps you to slow down and stop in a shorter amount of distance. For a car moving at 40 mph this is about 80 ft. When you add rain to the mix you significantly lower the amount of friction between your tires and the road. This increases your stopping distance quite a bit more than you may realize. It can be up to 160 ft at 40 mph! Add leaves to the rain and the surface of the road becomes like ice. The time and distance it takes to bring your vehicle to a complete stop is dramatically increased. We are talking distances of up to 250 ft at 40 mph!

Common Stopping Distances at 40mph

Keep in mind that the stopping distance also depends on the size and weight of your vehicle. A larger truck for example is going to take a longer time to stop, due to its greater size and weight, than say a smaller compact car. Good ole inertia!

Driving Tips to Keep in Mind this Fall Season!

With rain in the forecast this week be sure to slow down especially if you encounter any wet roads that could have leaves on them. Leave plenty of room between you and the vehicle in front of you. Make sure to give yourself a little extra time to get where you need to go so you don’t have to rush.

Driving conditions can also limit your reaction time as well. In these type of conditions try to brake sooner than you normally would in order to give yourself more room to maneuver should you start to slide.

Remembering these simple driving tips can help keep you and your family safe while on the roads this fall.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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