Stop! Do you know your braking distance?

Van braking distances

How long would it take your van to stop in an emergency? Knowing the answer to this question is a crucial part of staying safe on the roads – and it's probably longer than you think.

What is stopping distance?

Stopping distance is different from braking distance. Braking distance is the distance a vehicle travels after you've applied the brakes before it comes to a complete stop. Vehicle stopping distances, however, and thinking distance – the distance you travel while your brain reacts to a hazard and you press the brake. No matter how alert you are, at high speeds, this isn't insignificant: at 70mph you could cover the length of four cars before you even apply the brakes.

The Highway Code gives these thinking and braking distances for an average-sized family car. They will be longer for a van, because it is bigger and heavier; how much longer depends on the type of van. The load weight is also hugely important: the heavier the load, the longer it will take for the van to come to a complete stop, so always leave extra room when your van is laden.


Thinking distance

Braking distance


























What factors affect vehicle stopping distances?

Weather: Braking distances can double on wet roads – and stopping distances in weather conditions such as snow and ice can increase tenfold. That means it could take a car more than the length of seven football pitches to stop from 70mph. Poor visibility might also mean you take longer to react. Be prepared for black ice on cold days, too.

You: How alert you are (your reaction times will be slower if you are tired or distracted) and whether you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, even if you're under the drink-drive limit, will affect your reaction times. The RAC says that just a few seconds of glancing at your phone can add a football pitch to your stopping distance at motorway speeds. Of course, we wouldn’t condone illegal driving behaviour at all.

Tyres: Damage, under-inflation or insufficient tread will reduce your van’s ability to brake efficiently. The RAC says that cars with budget tyres can take an extra 14m to stop from 70mph in wet conditions compared to those with premium brand tyres, and that tyres right on the legal tread limit of 1.6mm can increase braking distance by up to 60 percent compared to brand new tyres.

Winter tyres are more effective than summer ones in temperatures of 7°C or less. The materials they’re made of and their specialist tread patterns help reduce stopping distances in cold weather, so we recommend getting a set for winter.

Knowing all this now you are ready to go on a hunt for your next van. Check our available stock for many different types of pre-owned commercial vehicles.
Panel vans, minibuses, pick-ups, and tipper vans from the biggest makes are all available at great prices.

If you'd like to test drive one of the used vans for sale, have a look at our website to see what we have for you, and call us at our Essex dealership on 01279 216163. Ask us about our vans on finance and van contract hire offers too.