How to Improve Reaction Time on the Road

How is your new driver’s reaction time? Is it lightning fast or turtle slow?

Test your own reaction time: take this fun test to challenge your reflexes and then share it with your new driver!

Reaction time is a critical component to healthy driving habits. Some drivers’ reaction times can be as fast as 0.7 seconds and others as slow as 3 seconds, depending on certain factors.

So how can you improve these times behind the wheel? Buckle up and let’s find out!

Speed and Braking

When we drive, how we respond to what’s ahead of us is affected by the time and distance we have to think or react. This means that when you’re traveling 60 mph, you’ll need 60-80 feet to react, and then another 180 feet of distance to be able to stop in time. That’s a total of 240-260 ft before you can bring your car to a complete stop!

In fact, every time you double your speed, you’ll need four times more distance to brake!

How to Improve: Remember to reduce your speed in busy areas of the road and don’t exceed the speed limit so you have enough distance to brake in time.

sketch illustration of braking reaction time and braking distance

Listening to Music

black and silver vehicle dashboard

Reaction time takes a hit whenever you’re adjusting the audio controls and listening to your favourite Top 40 song.

But listen to this: even though attention is split when loud music is playing, it can actually boost alertness during long or boring drives. In other words, at times you can actually benefit from listening to music!

How to Improve: It’s never a bad idea to just turn down the music when trying to think, find a destination, or hear if the car is rattling — even if it means your new driver has to put a pause on their carpool karaoke!

Unfamiliar Surroundings

Have you ever gotten lost or tried finding a new address that was hard to locate because you weren’t used to the roads, weather or traffic signs? Many drivers come across signs or roadways across Alberta and Canada that can be unfamiliar or rare. For new drivers this can be an especially serious distraction and reduce their reaction times.

How to Improve: Brush up on maps, signage, and road laws before getting on the road. The Alberta Driver’s Handbook may help too!

Fatigue, Inexperience, and Long Drives

Tired driver yawning

‘Long’ anything can really wear on focus and attention. This reduces your new driver’s cat-like reflexes if they’ve been driving for a longer distance than usual.

The Traffic Accident Commission (TAC) supports this and says that over 20% of all fatal collisions are from driver fatigue. Reaction time is to blame.

When you mix tired with inexperience, a study in France and Sweden shows that younger drivers who drive with little to no rest are more likely to get into an accident than those who are older.

How to Improve: Your young driver should schedule breaks along their sweet #roadtrip!

illustration tips for staying awake

Audible or Visual Signs

Have you ever noticed how quickly your attention goes to that chiming sound when your seatbelt is undone or that blind spot warning light (in newer vehicles)? These sights and sounds are actually engineered into vehicles by manufacturers like Ford to increase driver alertness and reduce your sensory overload from the likes of the engine or wind noise.

More cars are being released that can limit top speed and radio volume to encourage drivers to be safer and save money on gas (what parent wouldn’t like that?).

How to Improve: Remind your new driver to listen for seat-belt warnings, hazard signals, or a honking horn behind them if their music is too loud.

Night Driving and Your Eyesight

driver on dark road with oncoming headlights

We all feel like we have night vision, but in reality, racoons and Navy Seals are the only ones who get to say they do.

When the average driver rides along at night, their ‘night vision’ kicks in and so does their speed. The scary fact is that objects seen at night appear to move in slow-motion. In the Speed and Braking illustration above, the time needed to react is even less (even with headlights)!

How to Improve: Make sure your new driver takes it a little slower than normal at night time. This will save them from scary run-ins.



illustration of road signs

Of all the recommendations you make to your teen, driving slowly is probably one of the best ways to boost their reaction time. Congested areas, pedestrian-filled intersections, and rogue wildlife will all need their reaction time to be hitting on all cylinders!

If you’ve always wanted an easy way for your new driver to improve his/her overall habits, Carrot is feedback friendly and can create a scorecard that measures braking, speed, and cornering. And did we mention how you can motivate your new driver? The better their score, the more cash they can get!

Go #TeamParent!


Carrot is as easy to use as ABC:

  1. Enroll with InsureMy (plus get a 10% discount)
  2. Connect your vehicle to the Drive With Carrot App
  3. Buckle up and start getting cash rewards for driving smart!

Want to Get Started? Click ahead!

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