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What are the highway code stopping distances?

Ever heard of stopping distance? Or perhaps you understand that stopping distance is calculated by adding together thinking distance and braking distance? Either way - it's important to understand exactly what it all means, and how to keep safe on the roads. Learn everything you need to know about UK stopping distances from our detailed guide.

What is stopping distance?

Stopping distance is the total amount of time it takes for your vehicle to stop - from the moment you begin to think about braking, to the second you come to a complete halt. Stopping distance is calculated using a specific formula:

Stopping Distance = Thinking Distance + Braking Distance

So, what is 'thinking distance' and 'braking distance'?

Thinking Distance

This refers to the distance which is travelled in the time it takes you, the driver, to realise that you must brake. For example, this could be from the moment that a car in front of you brakes, to the moment that your foot actually presses down on the brake.

Braking distance

This refers to the amount of time from the moment you apply your brakes, to when your vehicle comes to a complete stop, or you remove your foot from the brakes.

According to the UK Highway Code, thinking distance and braking distance can be calculated like so:


Speed Thinking distance (before braking)
20mph 6 metres 20 feet
30mph 9 metres 29 feet
40mph 12 metres 39 feet
50mph 15 metres 49 feet
60mph 18 metres 59 feet
70mph 21 metres 69 feet


Speed Thinking distance (before braking)
20mph 6 metres 20 feet
30mph 14 metres 46 feet
40mph 24 metres 79 feet
50mph 38 metres 125 feet
60mph 55 metres 180 feet
70mph 75 metres 246 feet

Source: RAC

What can affect stopping distance?

Of course, there are multiple factors which need to be taken into account when calculating stopping distance. Some of these include:

Variables out of your control

Variables you can control

There are multiple factors that, as a driver and a vehicle owner, you are responsible for. Some of these include:

Looking for ways to make your vehicle safer to decrease your stopping distance? Book your vehicle in for a car service now - or speak to a member of our friendly team for more advice on highway code stopping distances in the UK.