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All brakes, no matter how well maintained, won't immediately bring your car to a stop when you use them. This inability to come to an instant stop is known as braking distance – but it’s not the only thing you need to consider when driving behind another vehicle.

We’ll take a look at everything you need to consider when rolling to a stop on the road. 

What’s braking distance?

Your braking distance is how far you go in the time it takes your car to come to a complete stop after you hit the brakes

What’s more, your braking distance isn’t a static number. It can change based on how fast you’re driving. In fact, when your driving speed doubles, your braking distance quadruples!

That said, there are ways to reduce your braking distance. For instance, if you’re giving your brakes and tires the TLC they need, your braking distance can decrease.

You may be thinking that all you need to do is factor in some extra time for braking distance – maybe a little extra to accommodate weather conditions – and you’ll be safe. Right?

Wrong.

There's thinking distance, too.

Thinking distance is how far you go in the time it takes you to register a threat and then actually hit the brakes. While this is measured in mere seconds, a split second can mean the difference between a collision and a near miss.

Under normal circumstances, the time it takes a driver to get their foot to the brake pedal is relatively short.

But if you’re tired, upset, or distracted by any means your thinking time will be much longer, endangering yourself and other drivers.

If you want to accurately calculate your total braking distance or stopping distance, you’ll need to use the following formula:

Total Stopping Time = Thinking Distance (TD) + Braking Distance (BD)

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How can I gauge my average stopping distance?

The Ministry of Transportation (MTO) suggests that drivers give themselves a two-second space between them and the car ahead. However, it’s important to keep in mind that this rule offers a minimum following distance, and only applies to ideal driving conditions. This means you should adjust accordingly depending on weather, the type of vehicle your driving, and the type you’re following. 

Hone your skills 

If you’ve never consciously thought about your stopping distance, then it can take a little practice. Fortunately, Onlia Sense can help track your driving habits so you can see if and when you’re braking harder than you should be – so you can be more conscious about your stopping distance. 

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