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Understanding reaction times when braking on the road

On Behalf of | Mar 20, 2024 | Personal Injury

Many rear-end accidents come as a surprise, even to the following driver. They believed that they had enough space, and they felt shocked that they weren’t able to stop the vehicle in time. They may even be tempted to blame the front driver, perhaps saying that they slowed down too quickly.

But the reality is that many people don’t understand how their reaction times impact their ability to brake. They just assume that they’ll be able to stop almost immediately, whenever they want to. But there are some important delays that can lead to car accidents.

The physical movement

For one thing, it takes time to physically move your foot onto the brake pedal. Drivers are only supposed to use one foot at a time, alternating between pedals. An exception to this is if a driver has a manual transmission that comes with a clutch, but most drivers do not. It will take the average driver about 3/4 of a second to move their foot to the brake pedal.

The cognitive connection

But before the driver even begins to brake, it takes time for them to recognize the need to do so. They see brake lights come on ahead of them, for example, or a stoplight turn red. Once again, drivers often think that this recognition is instantaneous, but it takes another 3/4 of a second. That means that there is usually a delay in braking by about one and a half seconds in total.

Seeking financial compensation

Have you been injured in an accident caused by a negligent driver? If so, be sure you understand how to seek financial compensation for medical bills and related costs.