Do you know how long it would take your car to come to a halt from 60mph? If you don’t, you’re not alone. Shouldn’t car makers tell us what distance their vehicles are able to stop in?
Car manufacturers are all too happy to tell us how swiftly their vehicles can sprint to 60mph, but most of them don’t make it easy for us to find out how long our motors will take to stop from that speed.
Maybe this is because the figures don’t make such compelling advertising copy. They definitely don’t for those cars that come last in the Which? Car brake test programme.
In this programme we tested the stopping power of around 160 new cars each year, putting them each through an identical series of tests. In our latest tests the worst offenders took up to eight metres longer to stop than the best in class.
This year the VW Polo topped the chart, stopping in just 34.16 metres, compared to the worst, the Suzuki Alto, stopping in 42.52 metres. The gap between the two is the length of a Routemaster bus, and could mean the difference between life and death.
Give us a brake
As a parent, I feel that this vital piece of safety information should be made widely available on every vehicle – it’s something that would influence my choice of car.
The figures would have to be comparable though, so I believe we should be pushing for a new European standard for brake testing, just as there is to measure fuel consumption.
With this in place we’d be able to compare the stopping distances of all cars. That in turn could put pressure on car makers to improve the brake technology of their vehicles. Maybe, then, they would include the latest safety technology in all their models, too, rather than just the big, expensive vehicles.