braking distance

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Definition - What does braking distance mean?

Braking distance refers to the amount of time a motorist needs to manually apply their brakes relative to the speed rate by reducing the momentum to close the distance from the vehicle(s) traveling ahead. A safe braking distance also hinges on thinking distance in calculating the time interval a motorist believes necessary to begin applying their brakes to cover the stopping distance before arriving at a complete stop.

SureHire explains braking distance

Multiple factors contribute to braking distance safety, including weather conditions, road infrastructure (i.e., potholes), optimal surface-to-tread ratio to maintain traction, and operable gear transmission when applying the brakes to decelerate speed. The thinking distance and braking distance represent the net effect of the current speed rate (or miles per hour) proportionate to the cumulative miles for every foot a vehicle is traveling to close a safe stopping distance. Motorists must understand that increasing their speed rate means multiplying a greater braking distance to accommodate the time interval to close the stopping distance for any traffic ahead to prevent rear-end collisions.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), stopping distance represents a legitimate hazard where operators of commercial motor vehicles (CMV) require substantial braking distance provided their bulk mass capacity via tractor-trailer haulage between destinations. It is imperative to maintain a visual point of reference of traffic flow when driving, prompting motorists to allow sufficient braking distance for contingent scenarios, for example, bad weather conditions and construction zone(s). FMCSA-based guidelines stress different reasons to increase braking distance including personal distractions (i.e., cell phone use), alcohol/drug impairment, or chronic fatigue, reflecting the time differential to moderate the stopping distance against potential road hazards.

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