Chart of the Day: Stopping Distance vs Speed

The art of information visualization is actually pretty interesting once you dive into it, and there’s no better way than by reading through Edward Tufte’s famous series of books on the topic.

I came across this nifty analysis of how ‘stopping distance vs. speed’ charts can present information in different ways. Here’s a particularly dry one:

speed v stopping 3

Here’s another that offers a different emphasis on the information through a football metaphor:

speed v stopping 2


Tufte’s webpage has a great discussion of information vizualization and data challenges Here’s but one comment:

Several attempts to improve the braking distance graph show that it is relatively easy to correct and improve bad graphics.

However, the real problem is that the data is wrong. The simplistic underlying assumptions misrepresent the realities of vehicle braking.

Driver reaction and response times are large variables from driver to driver. So are expected vs unexpected events and vehicle response time as well.


Bill Lindeke

About Bill Lindeke

Pronouns: he/him

Bill Lindeke has writing blogging about sidewalks and cities since 2005, ever since he read Jane Jacobs. He is a lecturer in Urban Studies at the University of Minnesota Geography Department, the Cityscape columnist at Minnpost, and has written multiple books on local urban history. He was born in Minneapolis, but has spent most of his time in St Paul. Check out Twitter @BillLindeke or on Facebook.