Education Technology

Stopping Distances

Published on 06/09/2008

Activity Overview

In this activity, students learn to build a model for the total distance required to stop a moving vehicle.

Before the Activity

  • See the attached PDF file for detailed instructions for this activity
  • Print pages 59 - 63 from the attached PDF file for your class
  • During the Activity

    Distribute the pages to the class.

    Follow the Activity procedures:

  • Enter speed, perception-reaction distance, braking distance, and total stopping distance data as lists
  • Graph speed versus perception-reaction distance
  • Determine the type of equation that will model the graphed data
  • Enter speed and reaction data and use linear regression function to obtain a regression equation
  • Graph the regression equation and find the slope and y-intercept
  • Observe that the equation fits the data


  • Graph speed versus braking distance data
  • Determine the type of equation that will model the graphed data
  • Write the mathematical statement of the relationship between braking distance and velocity
  • Enter data and use quadratic regression to calculate the regression equation
  • Find the values of b and c in the regression equation according to the relationship equation
  • Write an equation for the braking distance and observe that the equation fits the graphed data


  • Graph total distance (braking distance + reaction distance) versus speed data
  • Determine the type of equation that will model the graphed data
  • Find the equation for total stopping distance using previous equations of perception-reaction distance and braking distance
  • Compare equations and see how well the equation for total distance fits the data
  • Use the model to predict the stopping distance of a car traveling at a given speed and also the speed of a car whose stopping distance is a specified value
  • After the Activity

    Students complete the Student Activity sheet.

    Review student results:

  • As a class, discuss questions that appeared to be more challenging
  • Re-teach concepts as necessary