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Vehicle stopping distances

For primary school levels:

  • P5
  • P6
  • P7

How much space would you give yourself to come to an emergency stop?

Many drivers underestimate how long it takes to come to a complete stop from different speeds, and in different vehicles.

Learn how long it takes to come to an emergency stop if there is a hazard on the road by joining the Roadstars in their quiz.

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Cars might need to stop very quickly if the driver spots a hazard.

Do you know how long it takes for cars to stop?

Here’s the distance a car takes to stop after the driver sees a hazard.

It will take 12m to stop

It will take 23m to stop

It will take 73m to stop

It will take 96m to stop

Can you see how the stopping distances change at different speeds?

Will the car stop before the skip?

Yes, or no?

Will the car stop before the bus?

Yes, or no?

Will the car stop before the traffic lights?

Yes, or no?

Will the car stop before the car?

Yes, or no?

These are the correct answers!

How many did you get right?

No

Yes

Yes

No

Notes for Educators

  • You could take your children – and a measuring tape – outside into the playground/park to bring to life how far it takes for vehicles to stop at different speeds, and in various conditions.
  • If an average car is 4 metres long, split children into groups to estimate the distances needed, by measuring or pacing out where a car would stop when travelling at 20mph, 30mph, 40mph, 60mph and 70mph.
  • Watch some of the cars passing your school (if possible). Try to guess their speeds then work out the stopping distance they would need to avoid an obstacle.
  • And ask your children to estimate how much more space is needed when the roads are wet or icy.
  • In wet weather, stopping distances can be double, or more, than those required for stopping on dry roads because tyres have less grip on the road. And in snow and ice, overall stopping distances can be ten times higher than on a dry road. Think about what it’s like for you when you’re walking on ice.

Curriculum for Excellence associated Experiences and Outcomes

I know and can demonstrate how to keep myself and others safe and how to respond in a range of emergency situations. HWB 2-17a

I know and can demonstrate how to travel safely. HWB 2-18a

I can carry out practical tasks and investigations involving timed events and can explain which unit of time would be most appropriate to use. MNU 2-10b

I can use the common units of measure, convert between related units of the metric system and carry out calculations when solving problems. MNU 2-11b

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