Driv­ers ‘un­der­es­ti­mate the think­ing time when brak­ing’

Loughborough Echo - - MOTORS -

STOP­PING dis­tances in the UK High­way Code should be in­creased be­cause driv­ers’ think­ing time has been un­der­es­ti­mated, ac­cord­ing to fig­ures ob­tained by Brake, the road safety char­ity.

Brake asked TRL (Trans­port Re­search Lab­o­ra­tory) to pro­vide ev­i­dence on the time taken by car driv­ers to per­ceive, recog­nise and re­act to emer­gency sit­u­a­tions. TRL re­ferred to aca­demic lit­er­a­ture and con­cluded that the av­er­age think­ing time is 1.5 sec­onds − more than dou­ble the 0.67 sec­onds set out in the High­way Code.

This means that av­er­age to­tal stop­ping dis­tance − in­clud­ing think­ing and brak­ing dis­tance − is an ex­tra 2.75 car lengths (11 me­tres) at 30mph and an ex­tra 3.75 car lengths (15 me­tres) at 40mph com­pared with the dis­tances used in the Code. This dif­fer­ence rises to an ad­di­tional 6.25 car lengths (25 me­tres) at 70mph.

Brake is call­ing on the Gov­ern­ment to in­crease stop­ping dis­tances in its next up­date to the High­way Code.

Ja­son Wake­ford, spokesman for Brake, the road safety char­ity, said: “These fig­ures sug­gest stop­ping dis­tances taught to new driv­ers in the High­way Code fall woe­fully short. Even though car brak­ing tech­nol­ogy has im­proved in re­cent years, the ma­jor­ity of the over­all stop­ping dis­tance at most speeds is ac­tu­ally made up of the time taken to per­ceive the haz­ard and re­act.

The re­search shows that av­er­age think­ing time is more than dou­ble that set out in the High­way Code. A true un­der­stand­ing of how long it takes to stop a car in an emer­gency is one of the most im­por­tant les­sons for new driv­ers. Un­der­stand­ing true av­er­age think­ing time re­minds all driv­ers how far their car will travel be­fore they be­gin to brake − as well as high­light­ing how any dis­trac­tion in the car which ex­tends this time, like us­ing a mo­bile phone, could prove fa­tal.

Brake is call­ing on the Gov­ern­ment to in­crease the stop­ping dis­tances in the High­way Code as a mat­ter of ur­gency.”

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