Physics

Braking Distance Reaction Time



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Braking Distance and Reaction Time: How to Avoid Incidents on the Roadways

There are many situations that drivers, young and old alike, might be faced with on the road during even the shortest of trips. This situation could relate to anything from hazardous conditions to inattentive drivers. There are many pieces to the puzzle for surviving these dangerous conditions: preparedness, alertness, and cautiousness. Each of these three conditions can help a driver avoid driving incidents involving people, animals, or items on the roadway by providing better reaction time and ample braking distance.

Preparedness

There are three strategies that can be used by any driver to provide a safer driving experience. One way is by checking the brake fluid in the vehicle routinely. Brake fluid that has not been filled in quite some time will cause the brakes to become ineffective and loose, thereby resulting in a longer braking distance. This longer braking distance could end up being the few feet that cause injuries. Another way to better prepare the vehicle for the road is to replace old, worn-out brakes, pads, struts, and brake assembly parts whenever it is needed. This will provide the vehicle with better brake pressure during all slow-downs and stops. One more tactic to assist in better brake performance is to keep all tires inflated similarly as this will keep the vehicle in a smoother path during potentially-dangerous situations.

Alertness

While on the road, a driver must have access to all of his/her faculties (sight, sound, smell, etc.) to avoid potential dangers. During circumstances, such as a deer running into the road, a driver would do well to have his visual attention focused on the roadway ahead and the periphery as well. The driver that pays close attention to the details of the road can slow down and/or swerve to avoid obstructions and hazards, whereas the inattentive driver might become injured or worse. The best strategies to keep attentive during driving times are: keep cell phones and electronic devices (PDAs, pagers, etc.) off, avoid eating/drinking while behind the wheel, keep any radio or music on a low volume, avoid wearing tinted glasses that obscure the forward view, keep all windows clean of dirt and debris, and avoid conversation that is distracting to the driver. By using these tactics, a driver can provide a safe environment for him/herself, any passengers in the vehicle, as well as people or animals in the vicinity.

Cautiousness

While common sense tells us to drive defensively and to drive cautiously, many drivers do not follow that advice. Firstly, a driver can drive at a reasonable speed. This means that the vehicle should not exceed posted speed limits, should reduce its speed during impending weather conditions, and should provide proper lights during evening and nighttime hours. Secondly, a driver can utilize proper driving habits, such as correct hand positions on the wheel as well as driving at a safe distance behind vehicles. Lastly, a driver that is cautious can also determine whether he/she has had ample rest prior to taking the vehicle onto the roadway.

Conclusion

By providing a cautious environment, remaining alert, and preparing the vehicle for the road, a driver can avoid most hazardous situations that could result in injuries or deaths. The most important thing a driver can remember is that, even in the safest of environments, an accident can occur due to the effects of braking distance and reaction time. When vehicles are ill-prepared, braking distance suffers. When drivers are not alert, reaction time suffers. When drivers show little caution, passengers may suffer. The more time it takes the driver to react to situations, the less time he/she will have when it comes time to apply pressure to the brakes. When roadway conditions are not very good, this creates an environment where the tires can no longer grip the pavement as well and adds to the braking distance; and if a driver brakes too late during those conditions, an accident could occur. Finally, to sum everything up in one sentence: Keep your eyes and mind on the road ahead, keep your tires and brakes prepared for travel, and keep your foot close to the brakes at all times.'

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