How Much Can Stopping Distance Increase In Icy Conditions?

Icy Snowy British Road

When travelling on any road, knowing your vehicle’s stopping distance is vital for safe driving. As the autumn and winter weather draws in, road conditions can drastically alter overnight. With that in mind, it is vital to check how well your brakes are performing, in case you need to suddenly stop on uneven surfaces.

In this guide, we will explain how much stopping distance can increase in icy conditions, as well as some tips for checks you can carry out on your brakes to help you drive safer. To help you get prepared for drives during the colder weather, see our wide range of winter essentials.

What Is Stopping Distance?

A big part of the practical and theory driving tests, stopping distance is the combined thinking and braking distance you give yourself when driving on the roads.

Driving faster decreases your stopping distance, while driving slower or slowing down increases it. Getting too close to the cars in front of you (also known as ‘tailgating’) also decreases stopping distance and if you don’t stop in time, can cause an accident.

Three car lengths is the advised stopping distance when you are driving along a dry road. When the road conditions change however, like when they become icy, this affects your stopping distance.

Stopping Distance In Icy Conditions

Driving safely on icy roads is imperative for you and other people. Not only does it drastically affect the speed you can drive at, but also your overall stopping distance. Stopping distance in icy conditions increases ten times the amount it does to stop on a dry road. To put it into perspective, driving at 70mph could take you 800m to fully slow down your car!

As icy conditions increase during autumn and winter, checking your brakes are working correctly is a must before the freezing weather draws in.

Brake Check Tips For Icy Conditions

As stopping time in icy conditions can be very unpredictable, there are some things you can do to make sure your brakes are working correctly:

  • Check your brake fluid levels are at the correct amount. If it looks lower than it should be, you will need to change your brake fluid.
  • The winter weather can cause your car to make different noises. If you notice that your car is squeaking when you are applying your brakes, you may need to replace your brake pads.
  • As road conditions become icier and you are stopping more, your brakes may begin to feel soft or spongy. If this happens, it could be that you need to bleed your brakes.

Stopping distance on ice is one of many things you need to consider when driving during the winter. Another factor to consider is decreased visibility; take a look at our guide which takes you through when to use your dipped headlights.

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