How to Calculate Speed Braking Force

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The braking force of a moving vehicle opposes the force of the the vehicle's forward movement. The braking force decelerates the vehicle, which comes to a complete stop once the brakes have done an amount of work equal to the motion's kinetic energy. You can therefore calculate a vehicle's kinetic energy and associated speed from the braking force and the distance over which the vehicle stops. A vehicle's kinetic energy is equal to half the product of its mass and the square of its speed.

  • Multiply the braking force by the distance the vehicle travels as it brakes. For this example, imagine a force of 6,000 Newtons and a vehicle that brakes over 100 meters: 6,000 --- 100 = 600,000. This is the work that the brakes perform and the vehicle's initial kinetic energy.

  • Divide the result by 0.5, because the body's kinetic energy is half the product of its mass and the square of its velocity: 600,000 ÷ 0.5 = 1,200,000 joules.

  • Divide this answer by the vehicle's mass. If it weighs, for instance, 2,000 kg:

    1,200,000 ÷ 2,000 = 600.square meters per second squared.

  • Find the square root of this answer: 600^0.5 = 24.5 meters per second. This is the vehicle's speed.

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  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images
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