Vehicle safety

The fact that doubling a vehicle’s speed will make its braking distance four times greater is not obvious, but clearly young drivers, as many of your students will be, need to understand this. They also need to know what the factors are that affect a driver’s reaction time and those that affect the braking force that brings a vehicle to a halt. You can use this simple reaction timer to find your students’ reaction times and tell them how to calculate their thinking distance when travelling at a speed of 10ms-1.

When a vehicle undergoes a large deceleration in a collision, students need to realise how large the forces are that act on passengers in the car. They need to be able to apply the correct physics principles to explain this and hence explain the safety measures used such as seat belts, air bags and crumple zones. This video makes the case for seatbelts and air bags.

Whilst this list provides a source of information and ideas for experimental work, it is important to note that recommendations can date very quickly. Do NOT follow suggestions which conflict with current advice from CLEAPSS, SSERC or recent safety guides. eLibrary users are responsible for ensuring that any activity, including practical work, which they carry out is consistent with current regulations related to Health and Safety and that they carry an appropriate risk assessment. Further information is provided in our Health and Safety guidance.