You know how a lot of people have been saying for a long time that the stopping distances in the UK’s Highway Code need to be decreased because they’re based on 1960s Ford Anglia brakes? Well, a road safety charity is now calling for them to be increased.
Blaming a general lack of awareness among the average modern driver, Brake is saying that the reaction times – known as ‘thinking time’ in the Code – are too short to account for today’s oh-so-slow brains. Fair play, not everyone pays as much attention as they should, but modern brakes make mincemeat of the ones that set the benchmarks over 50 years ago.
Apparently, a study the charity commissioned with the Transport Research Laboratory showed that drivers take an average of 1.5 seconds to react to an emergency – not the 0.67 seconds listed in the Highway Code. In a statement, Jason Wakeford, Brake spokesman, said:
“These figures suggest stopping distances taught to new drivers in the Highway Code fall woefully short. Even though car braking technology has improved in recent years, the majority of the overall stopping distance at most speeds is actually made up of the time taken to perceive the hazard and react.”
We openly question the results of the study, though, which suggest that the overall stopping distances even from 20mph are seven metres longer than the rulebook says. Are the drivers in this study actually using the brakes? Stamp on the anchors at 20mph in any modern car and you have to peel your face off the steering wheel. There’s no way that hoofing the middle pedal won’t at the very least compensate for a slightly longer thinking time. We call bull.
We’re biased, of course, but we actually take an interest in cars and go to the trouble of learning and understanding how best to control them. We know how quickly we can stop them. Brake, meanwhile, wants the government to increase the listed stopping distances ‘as a matter of urgency’ in the next update of the Highway Code. Is anyone else rolling their eyes?