Stopping distances are an important factor in the theory test as they indicate how far away you should be driving from the vehicle in front. If the vehicle ahead of you suddenly stops, there needs to be enough space for you to also stop without colliding with them.

1. The difference between thinking, braking and stopping distance:

Stopping distance is distance travelled between when the decision to stop is made and the vehicle actually stops.
Braking distance is the distance it takes to stop once the brakes are applied.
Thinking distance is the distance between when a driver realises he needs to brake and when he actually brakes.

2. Stopping distances on dry road conditions

The general formula is: Stopping distance = thinking distance + braking distance

On dry road conditions, you can see all of the stopping distances below:

(Swipe left / right to scroll the table)

SpeedStopping DistanceThinking DistanceBraking Distance
20mph12 metres / 40 feet (3 car lengths)6 metres6 metres
30mph23 metres / 75 feet (6 car lengths)9 metres14 metres
40mph36 metres / 118 feet (9 car lengths)12 metres24 metres
50mph53 metres / 175 feet (13 car lengths)15 metres38 metres
60mph73 metres / 240 feet (18 car lengths)18 metres53 metres
70mph96 metres / 315 feet (24 car lengths)21 metres75 metres

3. Stopping distances on wet road conditions

On WET road conditions, the stopping distance is DOUBLED
On ICY road conditions, the stopping distance is at least 10 TIMES

4. The Two Second rule

The 2 second rule is a general rule of thumb whereby the driver should stay at least two seconds back from the driver in front. The faster you’re traveling, the longer your stopping distance will be and therefore the further back you should keep in order to meet the two second rule.

Remember, as the stopping distance is composed of thinking and braking distance, there are many factors that affect the distance. These include the driver’s age (reaction times), how fast the vehicle is travelling, how worn the vehicle’s brakes are, and the road conditions.

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