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How long it actually takes to hit the brakes

On Behalf of | Dec 7, 2023 | car accidents

A child runs into the street, chasing a ball. The driver ahead of you slams on the brakes, and their car starts to slow down. You respond instantly, hitting your brakes as well, as this effect ripples through traffic.

Odds are, when imagining this hypothetical scenario, you did imagine hitting the brakes immediately. But in reality, that’s not what happens. There is a delay that can lead to car accidents.

The delay is due to reaction time

There are three different parts to this delay. The first is that it takes three-quarters of a second just to recognize what’s happening ahead of your vehicle – the child running into the street or the other driver hitting the brakes – and to mentally decide to stop your car. 

Next, there’s another three-quarters of a second as you pick your foot up and move it to the other pedal. Drivers are only supposed to use one foot to drive, which is safer, but it also means that they have to move it back and forth as necessary, and it is usually on the accelerator.

Third, there can be a delay to when this process even begins. In the best-case scenario, it takes one and a half seconds to start slowing down the car. But if a driver is distracted, that could add a second or two – or more – onto their reaction time. This is why a three-second following is necessary to reduce the odds of a rear-end accident.

Unfortunately, drivers often make mistakes, get distracted, react slowly and cause serious crashes. Those who are injured may be able to seek compensation for medical bills and much more.