The Physics of Stopping

The question “safety is not related to how fast you go but how fast you stop” can not be answered without looking at the physics concepts involved. The answerer is not as clear cut as it may seem as factors of momentum, that is inertia in motion, inertia, mass, change in momentum, and impulse, all must be taken into account.

The first concept we must look at momentum. Momentum is inertia in motion, which can be found by multiplying mass and velocity. If you increase either mass or velocity, you will increase the momentum, we need to look at this as the faster you go the more momentum you have, and therefore the more dangerous you are, so speed is a danger, which is by no means a safe act.

The second important concept is the concept of impulse. Impulse changes momentum. Finding impulse is attained by multiplying force and time interval, change either of the two and the impulse is different. If you decelerate quickly you will have a smaller impulse, than a longer smoother deceleration. In the topic statement it states that it is not how fast you travel but how quickly you stop, if you were to travel at 60km.h-1 and stopped in 20m opposed to traveling at 100km.h-1 and stopping in the same distance, you would feel a shorter impulse, which makes the stopping ‘rougher.’

Inertia is another point that must be closely examined. Inertia is the tendency for a body to preserve its current state of motion, unless acted upon by an external force. This means things tend to do what they are already doing. For an example if you are traveling at 60km.h-1 and stopped over 20m your body would want to keep moving in the direction that it was doing so. If you stopped again over the same distance but from 100km.h-1 then you would experience a greater force of inertia, as your body would be wanting to stay moving at 100km as opposed to 60km in the other case. The faster you go the more inertia you have so you would be more likely to become injured the faster you go, especially if you are not wearing a seatbelt.

To agree or disagree with the topic statement is difficult. In theory the statement ‘Safety is not related to how fast you go but how fast you stop,’ is correct, but then communism works in theory. In reality all factors must be considered, which the statement obviously doesn’t cover. Yes if you can slow down in the same amount of time, you would be safer, however it doesn’t take into consideration the effects on the driver. Human bodies are not designed to withstand the effect of dramatic deceleration, seatbelts can be useful, however it leaves vital areas like the neck unprotected, and whiplash can cause severe neck, and bone injuries. What happens if you stop very suddenly from a high speed and you’re not wearing a seatbelt, you will stay in motion until something slows you down, which could be your windscreen, or a brick wall, and the effects are going to become worse the faster you travel. Put simply no I don’t think that safety is related to how fast you stop as opposed to how fast you are traveling.

Everyone would have their opinions on the topic sentence, and I think that the statement shows us the black and white, which looks good on the surface, but when examined closely has many flaws, as proven above. We must look at all aspects of physics involved and then make a decision, on weather or not the statement is true or not. Personally it has some truths to it, and it is correct to an extent but its flaws far outweigh the few truths to it.

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