High School Math

Math in the service of safety. A lesson for new and experienced drivers alike.

I still clearly remember by freshman high school math teacher, Martin J. Badoian, discussing braking distances with his class. He asked us to estimate how fast we could remove our foot from the accelerator and depress the brake pedal in an emergency and to calculate how far the car would move in that time at different speeds.

Assuming the car stops instantaneously once the brake pedal is depressed (remember, this was math class, not physics) here are the distances in feet for different vehicle speeds and reaction times.

Speed (MPH)
30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 95
Reaction
Time
(sec)
0.5 22 26 29 33 37 40 44 48 51 55 59 62 66 70
1.0 44 51 59 66 73 81 88 95 103 110 117 125 132 139
1.5 66 77 88 99 110 121 132 143 154 165 176 187 198 209
2.0 88 103 117 132 147 161 176 191 205 220 235 249 264 279

Elementary, but sobering, mathematics.



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