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The Physics of Impaired and Distracted Driving

INTRODUCTION:
One of the most exciting times in a teenagers life is when he or she starts driving. Unfortunately it is also one of the most
dangerous. Texting while driving is now the leading cause of death in American teens. In order to understand why being
distracted while driving is so dangerous, we will look at the physics of driving and braking. In this project, students will learn about
the factors that contribute to unsafe driving, will demonstrate the kinematics that apply to braking to stop a moving car, and will
create pamphlets or other public service announcements to help others understand the importance of staying safe on the road.

OBJECTIVES:
To understand the effects of distracted driving.
To mathematically demonstrate that distracted driving is more dangerous than undistracted driving.
To create a Public Service Announcement in order to make others more aware of the dangers of distracted driving.
(Optional) To take a safe driving pledge.

BACKGROUND INFO:
One aspect of safe driving involves the ability to stop a car readily. This
ability depends upon the driver's alertness and readiness to stop, the
conditions of the road, the speed of the car, and the braking
characteristics of the car. The actual distance that it takes to stop the car
can be thought of as consisting of two parts - the reaction distance and
braking distance. When a driver sees an event in his/her field of vision
that might warrant braking (for example, a dog running into the street), a
collection of actions must be taken before the braking actually begins.
First the driver must identify the event and decide if braking is necessary.
Then the driver must lift his/her foot off the gas pedal and move it to the
brake pedal. And finally, the driver must press the brake down its full
distance in order to obtain maximum braking acceleration. The time to do
all this is known as the reaction time. The distance traveled during this
time is known as the reaction distance. Once the brakes are applied,
the car begins to slow to a stop. The distance traveled by the car during this time is known as the braking distance. The braking
distance is dependent upon the original speed of the car, the road conditions, and characteristics of the car such as its profile area,
mass and tire conditions.

Figure 2 shows the stopping distance for a Toyota Prius on dry pavement resulting from a 0.75-second reaction time.
REACTION TIME
The reaction time of the driver is highly dependent upon the alertness
of the driver. Small changes in reaction time can have a huge effect
upon the total stopping distance. Table 1 shows the reaction
distance, braking distance and total stopping distance for a Toyota
Prius with an original speed of 50.0 mi/hr and varying reaction times.

The data from Table 1 is provided for example. Notice how the
distance traveled during breaking, for this speed, did not change; the Table 1 Relationship between Stopping Distance
reaction time affects the total stopping distance required at this speed.
and Speed for a Toyota Prius Traveling 50 mph

PROJECT REQUIREMENTS (Pay Attention to These) DUE NOVEMBER 2nd and 3rd.

CALCULATIONS: Your Calculations should be completed on a clean sheet of paper, separate from the pamphlet, and should
be NEAT and well-organized. See below for details:

PROBLEM 1 Stopping Distances for a Car, Based on Traveling Speeds (Reaction time NOT impaired)
The stopping distance for a car is equal to the distance it travels during your reaction time (reaction distance) plus the distance it
travels while the brakes are applied (braking distance). The typical deceleration ( a ) of a car has a magnitude of 10 m/s 2 and a
typical reaction time ( t ) is 1.5 s, when the driver is NOT distracted.
On the Calculations Sheet, show your work for calculating the reaction distance (the distance you travel prior to reacting),
AND the braking distance for a car traveling at the following speeds (you will need to convert each speed to meters/sec):
10 mph (e) 50 mph
20 mph (f) 60 mph
30 mph (g) 70 mph
40 mph

On the Calculations Sheet, show your work for calculating the braking time (t) for the car for each of the cases a-g.

PROBLEM 2 Stopping Distances for a Car, Based on Traveling Speeds (Reaction time impaired)

CHOOSE ONE OF THE FOLLOWING OPTIONS, and redo the calculations for PROBLEM 1 using impaired reaction times:

1) Redo the calculations of PROBLEM 1 assuming that you are drunk and your reaction time is increased by 13% (1.7 s
instead of 1.5 s). Hint: the braking distance will remain the same because we are assuming the cars ability is not affected
by your actions.
OR
2) Redo the calculations of PROBLEM 1 assuming that you are texting and your reaction time is increased by 21% (1.8 s
Pickinstead
One of 1.5 s). Hint: the braking distance will remain the same because we are assuming the cars ability is not affected
by your actions.
OR
3) Redo the calculations of PROBLEM 1 assuming that you are texting and your reaction time is increased by 37% (2.1 s
instead of 1.5 s). Hint: the braking distance will remain the same because we are assuming the cars ability is not affected
by your actions.
OR
4) Redo the calculations of PROBLEM 1 assuming that you are talking on a hand-held phone and your reaction time is
increased by 46% (2.2 s instead of 1.5 s). Hint: the braking distance will remain the same because we are assuming the
cars ability is not affected by your actions.
PAMPHLET (OR FLYER, OR POSTER): Using the calculations you completed, create a pamphlet to inform others of the
dangers of distracted/impaired driving.

INTRODUCTION: Research your chosen cause of distracted/impaired driving. Give a brief introduction to the kinematics
involved in braking, and provide relevant statistics from your research that illustrate the dangers of distracted driving.

SAMPLE CALCULATION: Provide a sample calculation for the stopping distances for a car traveling at ONE of the listed
speed, and explain each step of the calculation, so that a layperson can understand your work.

DATA TABLE: Provide a table summarizing the calculated data from Problems 1 and 2, highlighting the different stopping
distances required for impaired/distracted driving versus normal driving.

GRAPH: Using your Problem 2 Calculations, create a graph of v (the speed prior to braking) vs. stopping distance.

CONCLUSION: Include a short summary of your findings, and encourage drivers to be safe.

REFERENCES: Provide a list of the references you used in your research.

If you need help with the calculations, please attend one of the Calculation Assistance Workshops. Listen for times.