An Investigation of the Utility and Accuracy of the Table of Speed and Stopping Distances Specified in the Code of Virginia

Report No: 01-R13

Published in 2001

About the report:

This study was conducted pursuant to House Joint Resolution No. 74 introduced by Delegate R. Creigh Deeds during the 2000 Session of the Virginia General Assembly. The resolution requested that the Virginia Transportation Research Council study the table of speed and stopping distances specified in 46.2-880 of the Code of Virginia, especially with regard to the accuracy, completeness, and currency of the data contained in the table; the amendments that might be necessary or desirable; and the usefulness and appropriateness of continuing to include the table in the Code. The authors concluded that information provided in a table of speed and stopping distances can be useful to judges and juries in their deliberations. They also found the data in the table to be inaccurate. Specifically, the reaction time of 3/4 second did not incorporate the factor of perception time that is relevant to total stopping distance. Allowing for perception time would double the estimate of the total distance traveled before braking. Further, the braking distances in the table were too great. These distances were calculated without consideration of such factors as improved road surface conditions, improved tires, and increasingly sophisticated braking systems. The authors recommend that the table of speed and stopping distances in 46.2-880 of the Code be updated as specified in this study. The authors also recommend that the revised table be used within judicially recognized limits, which is to say for illustrative purposes rather than as affirmative proof (or disproof) of a defendant's negligence.

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.


  • Jack D. Jernigan, Meltem F. Kodaman

Last updated: December 7, 2023

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