Disney's Epcot Center in Orlando, Fla. is home to some of the most unique attractions in the world. You can experience G forces during a simulated trip to Mars on Mission Space or fly high over the mountains suspended on a hang glider on Soarin'. But perhaps the park's most popular attraction is the nearly one-mile journey as a crash-test dummy in Test Track. Riders ascend hills, travel through high-banked turns and feel the effects of high-speed braking both with and without the aid of anti-lock brakes [source: Disney].
Test Track is a five-minute joyride that simulates the testing procedures auto manufacturers put cars through before they hit showroom floors. And while it's the closest most of us will get to ringing out a Corvette at top speed at Daytona International Speedway or tossing a BMW M3 through the corners at the Nurburgring circuit in Germany, we can test one of the most important components of our vehicle, the braking system.
A vehicle traveling at 60 mph (96.5 kph) covers 88 feet (27 meters) per second. When you go to brake, it typically takes you about three-quarters of a second to realize you need to hit the brakes and another three-quarters of a second to actually push the brake pedal. These are your perception and reaction times respectively. That's 132 feet you'll travel before you even begin to stop. Add in factors such as vehicle weight, gravity, and traction and you are looking at a braking distance of close to 300 feet or the length of a football field before you'll come to a complete stop [source: Edmunds].
Testing your vehicle's braking distance can be the difference between a near-miss and a serious accident on the road. This article gives you the data you need to test your vehicle's braking distance. Let's start by looking at the factors that contribute to braking distance in the next section.