Stopping Distances Explained

Understanding stopping distances

Understanding stopping distances

Understanding stopping distances is one of the most important parts of learning to drive safely. Leaving enough space between you and the car in front will help to prevent accidents and avoid unnecessary incidents. Keep reading to discover what factors affect stopping distance and how you can easily adopt the best techniques to maintain safe driving practises.

Thinking distance

Stopping distance is the distance it takes you to stop your car, but it is made up of two components: braking distance and thinking distance.

Thinking distance is the time it takes you to realise that there is a problem before you can start applying the brakes. The faster you are travelling, the greater distance you will cover before being able to come to a full stop.

You may think that you would apply pressure to the brake pedal as soon as you notice a hazardous obstacle, but this is not true.

No matter how fast your reaction time, there will always be a delay between when you first notice a hazard, and when you take action.

There will even be a short amount of time between when you first see the hazard and when your brain recognises that it is a problem.

This is especially common when you are not paying attention to the road properly and if you are distracted by passengers, music, the radio or a speakerphone.

On average, thinking distance at 20mph is approximately 6m, but if you are travelling at 40mph this doubles to 12m!

So, as you double your speed, you are also doubling your thinking time. Ensuring that you pay close attention to the road and other road users is essential if you want to minimise thinking time.


wever, even under optimum conditions, it still takes time to take action when you notice there is a problem, so this must factor into your stopping time calculations.

Braking distance

Braking distance

Braking distance is the amount of distance your car will cover before coming to a complete stop after you have started braking.

Although at 20mph it will only be 6m, at 40mph the braking distance becomes a whopping 24m!

Remember, in order to calculate overall stopping distance, you will need to add the braking distance and thinking distance together. So, if you are travelling at a 40mph speed, then the combined stopping distance (on average) will be 36 metres.

Obviously, the faster you are travelling, the longer it will take you to stop, so at 70mph, the overall stopping distance is a massive 96 metres. Bear in mind that the average car length is around 4.5m, so at 70mph you will be driving the equivalent length of over 21 cars before you can stop!

The two-second rule

Most driving instructors talk about the two-second rule to help estimate safe following distances.

The two-second rule involves checking that you have left a two-second gap between yourself and the car in front.

This can be worked out by choosing a landmark in the road ahead and timing how long it takes you to reach it, once the car in front has passed it.

Things that affect stopping distance

Stopping distances can be affected by many things, such as following distances, driver distraction, road condition and the condition of your car.

However, the most common issue affecting stopping distance is adverse weather. Rain, ice and snow can all have a dramatic impact on how long it takes your car to stop in the case of an emergency.

The two-second rule applies at any speed, however, should not be used if driving in adverse weather conditions.

In rainy driving conditions, for instance, you should employ the four-second rule in order to maintain a safe distance from the car in front.

When driving on icy roads, stopping distances can be unpredictable.

Therefore, driving speed should be dramatically reduced, and plenty of space should be left between vehicles.

How To Get Parallel Parking Right First Time, Every Time

Get Parallel Parking Right First Time

With the number of cars on British roads increasing all the time, mastering parallel parking is crucial. In areas around Greater London, where parking space is at a premium, it’s critical. If you have the good fortune to find a space in somewhere like Romford, Ilford or Dagenham, you need to be able to park quickly and accurately.

If you take parallel parking slowly, step by step, it will get easier every time. Read on to find out how to master the manoeuvre:

  1. Start In The Right Place This is critical – get it wrong and you might as well start from scratch.Drive past the space and draw up alongside the car at the front of it, leaving about a metre’s gap beside you and stop slightly in front of that car. Line up the front edge of that car’s bonnet with a point about halfway along your passenger-side front window.
  2. Move To The Turning Point Reverse slowly back towards the space in a straight line, watching the back of the other car through your back or side window. As a rough guide, wait until the rear end of the car you are beside is halfway along your passenger-side rear window.When the ends of the two cars are aligned, you can safely turn your steering wheel.
  3. Reversing Take one full turn on your steering wheel and slowly reverse. Adjust the angle until the middle of your rear window is aimed at the point where the edge of the car you are reversing towards would meet the kerb. Then straighten the wheel and reverse slowly back, using the passenger door mirror to watch your car as it gets closer to the kerb.
  4. Swing The Front In Just before your rear wheel touches the kerb, apply full lock in the other direction and continue to reverse slowly. This will bring the front of your car into the space.Watch the front of your car carefully, and if you can’t get it all in in one go, switch to full lock the other way, move forward as far as you can, then go back to full lock the original way and reverse again.
  5. Adjust Finally, move forward to line your car up, leaving an equal amount of space front and back. Use the passenger door mirror to check that you are parallel to the kerb and not too far out.With practice and patience, parallel parking should soon become second nature.

    With practice and patience, parallel parking should soon become second nature.

Which Lane Should I Be In When Approaching A Roundabout?


As you approach a roundabout it’s essential that you get into the correct lane as soon as possible. This can be tricky, especially on multi-lane roundabouts with three or even four lanes of traffic.

The roundabout is designed to help you, however, so with a little concentration you can always ensure you’re in the right lane.

The question of which lane you should be in as you approach a roundabout depends entirely on which exit you are taking. If you are taking the first exit you should always be in the lane furthest to the left.

If you are taking the last exit, or if you need to go all the way around and double back on yourself, you should be in the lane furthest to the right. This always applies, even on roundabouts with only two lanes and multiple exists.

After that, things get a little trickier.

The two most important things to do as you approach a roundabout is to decide as soon as possible which exit you are taking. There should be road signs as you approach telling you where each exit leads.

They may be signposted with a road number, for example the M55, or with a destination, such as Colchester or London.

Once you know which exit you need, you will be able to determine which lane to get into based on a number of factors:

Sign Posts

There is often a second sign post after the one showing where each exit leads, which indicates which lane you should be in for each exit.

Road Markings

Where there are no sign posts to indicate which lane to use, and often even when there are, the lanes themselves will be marked. There is limited space in a lane to clearly mark a destination so they are usually limited to road numbers and abbreviations.

For example, if there is a north bound and south bound motorway, two lanes will be marked with the number of the motorway, one followed by and N, for north, and one by an S, for south. East and west can also be abbreviated in this manner. Town and city names are often abbreviated also. For example, Weaverham would appear as W’ham.

The Number Of The Exit

If there are three exits on a roundabout and three lanes, each lane corresponds to an exit, with the first exist being the lane furthest to the left. The second exit is the middle lane, while the third is the lane on the right. This gets a little more complicated when there are more exits than there are lanes.

A good rule of thumb is to use the middle lane for anything between the first and last exit – on a five exit roundabout you would stay in the middle lane for exits two, three, and four.

Once you are on the roundabout, the lane you are in may split into more lanes, or allow you to follow the lane past exits you could take until you reach the right one.

It’s best not to rely on this method as it can get quite confusing, but in the absence of any form of signage or road markings, it’s useful to remember.

A Few Other Things…

As you approach a roundabout, always give priority to cars coming from your right, unless road markings, signals, or traffic lights tell you otherwise.

When changing lanes remember to always use Mirrors – Signal – Manoeuvre at every stage. You also need to time your signals to ensure other drivers have adequate time to see them, and aren’t confused. Once you’re in the correct lane, follow it until you reach your exit, and use your left indicator to show you are taking the next exit.

On the roundabout remain aware of the direction your lane is going in and don’t accidentally cross into another lane. You should also be aware of other drivers and anticipate that they might not be signalling correctly.

Driving Routes Around Dagenham To Help You With Your Driving Lessons

Driving Routes Around Dagenham

Dagenham offers several routes that can be incredibly useful for people learning to drive.

If you are just beginning, the relatively quiet intersection of Langley Cres and Stamford Rd gives you a solid starting place.

Driving east, you will find Gale St. By turning left, you can practise laps of the block to familiarise yourself with standard three- and four- path intersections.

Practising turning and giving way at various street junctions is a good way to put your understanding of theory into practice. Before even getting behind the wheel, make sure you are properly familiarised with all of the road rules, especially those that dictate who has right of way in certain situations.

Once you’re comfortable with these intersections and have done several laps, travel north up Gale St until you reach a five-path roundabout. There also exists a roundabout where Rainham Rd and Ballards Rd meets.

Once you reach the roundabout, turn right, ensuring that you keep an eye out for traffic and properly use your indicators.

Don’t be afraid to do one or more laps to get yourself completely comfortable with the mechanics of the roundabout.

Once you are fully familiarised with the flow of the roundabout, turn right into Hedgemans Rd and when you reach Heathway, turn left to get used to stop–start traffic.

After traversing Oxlow and Wood Lanes, followed by Aylmer Road, you’ll soon approach Valence Circus, which you can navigate as you please to familiarise yourself with the circular nature of a circus junction.

Once you’re comfortable with navigating Valence Circus, backtrack towards Wood Ln and proceed in a southerly direction back to where you started. It doesn’t have to be the intersection of Langley Cres and Stamford Rd; it could be where you first got into the car for your lesson.

Whatever the case, have your instructor call out directions as you drive from this point back to base; it will help you in a test scenario, where callouts are the norm.

Always be mindful of traffic conditions, weather, and – of course – be ever mindful of pedestrians, as kids can be especially erratic and hard to spot, and they don’t always follow the road rules.

Finally, ensure that you practise plenty of right-hand turns against traffic on your return journey.

How To Prevent The Car From Stalling On Hill Starts

Get Up To Speed On Hill Starts

Get Up To Speed On Hill Starts

Hill starts are the learner driver’s nemesis, so don’t worry if you can’t do it first time. It’s something that can take a while to master but this makes it particularly satisfying once you’ve got to grips with it. Practice makes perfect, but if you’d like to better understand the theory before you get going, here are our top tips:

The hand brake is your best friend

While it’s important that you have a feel for your clutch’s biting point and can control the car’s movement well with your foot brake, it’s best to tackle hills with your handbrake.

Make sure you leave the hand brake on while you find your biting point, only releasing it when you’re moving off.

This will mean your right foot is free to accelerate and you won’t fall back as you would if you were swapping from the foot brake to the accelerator.

Don’t be afraid to use more power when you start moving

The main reason you’ll stall on a hill start is because you haven’t given the engine enough revs to keep ticking over.

You’ll hear the engine struggling and spluttering, so this should be a reminder to hold your foot on the accelerator for a little longer until you’re over the hill.

Check your gear

Despite what you may have heard from your friends, attempting to pull away in third gear isn’t wise.

You’ll have a much bigger chance of stalling, so always check that you’re in first gear before you start moving.

On hills you might also need to stay in first gear for longer too – if you go up too quickly you may lose momentum and stall, so it’s better to be cautious with this when you’re learning.

Be confident and patient

As with all parts of the learner driver experience, getting in a flap won’t help at all with your execution. It’s important you take your time to make sure that you have your feet in the right position before you start going.

If you move off too quickly, you may catch up with the car in front of you and be forced to brake again on the hill.

This can be stressful if you’re not used to putting your handbrake on and off again, and could mean that you stall.

Your fellow drivers will prefer that you do things slowly and carefully rather than risking rolling back into their car.

Keep these things in mind and we’re sure you’ll be an expert in no time!