Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
  • entries
  • comments
  • views

Physics of Speed Bumps

Sign in to follow this  


Have you ever driven too fast over a speed bump and felt an uncomfortable jolt? Have you ever wondered why the feeling is so much less uncomfortable when you travel over the speed bump at a slower speed? This discomfort can be explained when considering the physics of speed bumps. When going over the speed bump, you experience an impulse, equivalent to the average force applied to you multiplied by the time during which it is applied. Let's say that you are approaching the speed bump at a relatively high speed, and that you roll over the speed bump in 0.001 seconds. The speed bump applies an impulse to you which stays constant no matter how fast you go over the speed bump. Since the impulse remains the same, the smaller the time interval during which you pass over the speed bump, the greater the force applied to you, which causes discomfort. Conversely, the greater the time interval during which you pass over the bump, the smaller the force you experience. When traveling at a slower velocity, you are passing over the speed bump for a longer time, making the force smaller. Therefore, speed bumps should be travelled over slowly in order to avoid a discomfortably large force. 

Sign in to follow this  

1 Comment

Recommended Comments

If the speed bump is small enough I find the opposite. At a slower speed the entire car is moved up and down over the speed bump, but if the car is moving faster the shocks take all that movement away because it is a much faster action. But yes if the car had no suspension the slower way is better.

Share this comment

Link to comment
Add a comment...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Terms of Use

The pages of APlusPhysics.com, Physics in Action podcasts, and other online media at this site are made available as a service to physics students, instructors, and others. Their use is encouraged and is free of charge. Teachers who wish to use materials either in a classroom demonstration format or as part of an interactive activity/lesson are granted permission (and encouraged) to do so. Linking to information on this site is allowed and encouraged, but content from APlusPhysics may not be made available elsewhere on the Internet without the author's written permission.

Copyright Notice

APlusPhysics.com, Silly Beagle Productions and Physics In Action materials are copyright protected and the author restricts their use to online usage through a live internet connection. Any downloading of files to other storage devices (hard drives, web servers, school servers, CDs, etc.) with the exception of Physics In Action podcast episodes is prohibited. The use of images, text and animations in other projects (including non-profit endeavors) is also prohibited. Requests for permission to use such material on other projects may be submitted in writing to info@aplusphysics.com. Licensing of the content of APlusPhysics.com for other uses may be considered in the future.

  • Create New...