COMPANY drivers spend their lives on the road seconds from disaster because they do not know how long it takes a modern car to stop, new research suggests.
Produced as part of Road Safety Week, the survey's findings show that nearly two-thirds of British motorists do not know the minimum stopping distance at 30mph. A total of 2,000 motorists were quizzed as part of the survey, published by Green Flag Motoring Assistance, and just over a third (37%) gave the correct answer of 23 metres, or the equivalent of six car lengths.
Of those who answered incorrectly, just over a third thought the minimum distance was more than 23 metres.
More worryingly, Green Flag executives say, one in four thought that 12 metres, the equivalent of three car lengths, was enough distance to stop suddenly and safely. In an emergency braking situation, this would not be enough to prevent a driver from ploughing into the car in front, or hitting a pedestrian.
Green Flag say its findings suggest many motorists could be placing themselves and other road users at risk of pile-ups and accidents.
Of the respondents it was found that younger motorists were more accurate with their answers. Two in five 18 to 24-year-olds surveyed came up with the right answer but among those aged between 45 and 54 years old less than a third gave the right answer.
Green Flag spokesman Nigel Charlesworth said: 'The results reveal a potentially dangerous gap in the knowledge of many motorists. Each year, we respond to thousands of calls for assistance from people whose cars have been immobilised by minor accidents. The results suggest that some of these could be avoided. It is, however, encouraging to see that younger motorists are more aware of appropriate stopping distances, possibly due to more stringent driving test requirements.'
Earlier this year fleets were warned of the dangers of staff driving vehicles fitted with unsafe and potentially illegal tyres (Fleet NewsNet March 7).
Kwik-Fit Mobile said that although drivers may dismiss the dangers involved in defective tyres, research has proved that at 70mph, the stopping distance of a car fitted with a new tyre is about 100 metres, while one with 3mm of tread is 150 metres. At the legal minimum of 1.6mm, the stopping distance doubles to 200 metres, and extends even further to 250 metres when only 1mm of tread is left.