Local News

January 6, 2013

After dark, use headlights and your head


“By the time you see it (the hazard) in a lot of places, the hazard has already passed.”

In other words, even within the speed limit, drivers are often driving so fast in the dark that they can’t stop in time to avoid hitting a walker, runner, biker, skateboarder or rollerblader. Drivers who are traveling at a moderate speed when they hit a person or an animal often aren’t even aware of what they hit, Campbell said.

“It happens that quick.”

Email Felicia Krieg:


Drivers often don't realize how much distance a vehicle travels in just a second -- in the time it takes to take eyes off the road just to change the station on the radio or reach for an item on the passenger seat.

The following charts, provided by State Police, show how far a vehicle travels in one second and how much distance is needed to stop once a hazard is spotted. The numbers in the first chart are calculated using a mathematical formula and are exact figures. The stopping distance figures are an approximation because there are several factors that can affect it.

Speed (in mph): Distance Traveled (feet per second)

  • 30: 44
  • 35: 51
  • 40: 58
  • 45: 66
  • 50: 73
  • 55: 80
  • 60: 88
  • 65: 95
  • 70: 102
  • 75: 110
  • 80: 117

"Stopping distance" refers to the minimum amount of distance a driver would need to bring the vehicle to a stop at a certain speed.

Speed (mph): Approximate Stopping Distance (feet)

  • 30: 40
  • 35: 54
  • 40: 71
  • 45: 90
  • 50: 111
  • 55: 134
  • 60: 160
  • 65: 187
  • 70: 217
  • 75: 250
  • 90: 284


  • Section 1156(a) of New York state law states it is unlawful for pedestrians to walk along and on a highway if there are usable sidewalks. Section 1156(b) states that, if there are no sidewalks, pedestrians may walk only on the left side of the roadway or its shoulder, facing oncoming traffic.
  • Section b also says that when a vehicle is approaching, a pedestrian shall move as far to the left as is practicable.
  • As far as bicyclists go, they have a right to the roadway but are supposed to be as far to the right as possible and should travel on the shoulder or a bike lane if one is present.
  • Bikers have a right to use the travel lane day or night, but must have a light on the front of the bike for the period lasting a half hour after sunset to a half hour before sunrise, according to Section 1236.
  • It is the driver's responsibility to exercise due care when encountering a bicycle in the roadway to avoid collision, says Section 1146.

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