Why Stopping Distances Matter More During the Winter

Stopping Distances 1

Stopping distances seen at speeds of 50 km/hr versus 80 km/hr under different road conditions.

It’s pretty simple, really. Stopping distance is the distance it takes your vehicle to come to a complete stop once you apply your brakes. The faster you are travelling, the longer it will take you to come to a complete stop (and being able to stop your vehicle as quickly as possible when you need to is always a good thing).

“Speed limits are for ideal driving conditions. Winter driving conditions are not ideal.

Slow down and drive safely!”

We— along with our partners in the Winter Driving Safety Alliance — repeat this mantra many, many times during the winter months. Why?  To remind drivers that the road they drove on during the summer is not the same road during winter. Rain, slush, snow, ice and cold temperatures mean your tires have less traction and less traction makes stopping harder.  Period.

For example, if you’re driving on a set of all-season tires on a rain-covered road at 80 km/h, you’ll need nearly twice the distance to stop than you would when driving at 50 km/h. Not surprisingly, snow and ice covered roads create even longer stopping distances.

 

More than just pressing on the brake pedal
You need time to see and react before your brakes take effect and slow you down. When you see a hazard ahead while driving, it will take you about three-quarters of a second to make the decision to stop and another three-quarters of a second to brake. Only then will your vehicle begin to slow.

See think do

Not ideal 1

Double the Speed, Quadruple the Braking Distance
When increasing your speed, keep this in mind: Each time you double your speed, your braking distance is multiplied by four. In wet or icy road conditions, it’s even more.

Help keep yourself and others safe by slowing down, keeping your distance, and remembering these tips:

  • Know the risk posed by winter driving (including darkness, rain). Slow down on wet roads, in bad weather conditions, or on uneven roads.
  • Increase your following distance if you are following behind a very large vehicle that could block your vision or a motorcycle that could stop very quickly.
  • Prepare yourself and your vehicle. Have an emergency kit on hand, make sure your car is running well and is equipped with winter tires.
  • Be realistic about your travel time. Driving is a complex task, especially in poor conditions. Allow extra travel time in wet, icy or snowy weather so you aren’t tempted to rush. If you’re going to be later than you expected — deal with it. Take a deep breath and accept the delay.
  • Assess the need for travel. Check DriveBC and if conditions don’t look good – don’t go.

Do you have any safe winter driving tips you would like to add?

Let us know in the comments below. Safe travels all.

Slow down keep your distance

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