Speed calculator is a tool that helps you determine average speed based on the distance and time traveled by a moving object. Whether it's a test drive of your brand new car, your last jogging run or bike trip, if you want to know how to find average speed, this calculator will come in handy.

In the article below, you can find many valuable informations, like what is the average speed formula. We also write about curious speed facts (e.g., speed of sound). Check this speed distance calculator and answer the question how fast am I going?

Speed, distance, time

The term speed is well known for all of us, but how do we understand it actually? Speed, by definition, is purely related and connected to physics. However, while thinking about it, rather than see vectors and formulas from a handbook, we can see a riding cyclist, flying jet or a speedometer needle. We mostly associate speed with moving objects than with scientific background. What is more, we can differently feel the speed depending on the situation. We can sense whether we are moving fast or not. For example, when you drive a car with a speed of 50 km/h, it is relatively is not so fast, but when you ride a bike with the same speed, it fells like a lot. So, we can truly say that the humans perception of speed is relative.

In automobiles and trains, speed is measured in kilometers per hour (kph) or in miles per hour (mph), and in airplanes as well as in ships we usually use knots (kn). On the other hand, physicists most often use base units which are meters per second (m/s). The speed definition hides behind these units, and we can get familiar with it by examining them. Everything about speed is related to distance and time. The units of speed are specified by traveled distance units divided by units of time, and that is the general idea of speed. In a more simple way - speed is the distance traveled per unit of time.

How fast am I going? - types of speed

Speed is not a precise term - there are a few more accurate meanings, and they should not be confused with each other. Let's consider the differences between instantaneous speed, average speed and rotational speed. For the purpose of two first, we will try to visualize it with an example of driving a car.

While looking at the speedometer in your car, you can see for example the indication of 100 kilometers per hour. This information tells you how far you will drive if you keep the constant speed. We know that in practice, keeping the exact constant speed is almost impossible (it is more applicable on highway, when driving with the cruise control assistant), and our speed more or less fluctuates all the time. The actual distance you travel in an hour is an average of all these speeds. Conclusion - the average speed is the total distance traveled in a unit of time (e.g., in an hour).

So, what the numbers (needle) on speedometer practically mean? They present your instantaneous speed, current, at this exact moment. According to handbook definition, the instantaneous speed is a change in object position x between two time moments t₁ and t₂ (where this time interval approaches zero, i.e., t₂ - t₁ -> 0).

The rotational speed is a slightly bit different term, related rather to rotating objects and not to objects that change their position in space. Accordingly, the rotational speed is the number of complete revolutions that object makes in a unit of time. It is expressed in radians per seconds (rad/s) or in revolutions per minute (rpm) units. We will not focus more on this topic because it is not the aim of this speed distance calculator. If you would like to find more in the topic of angular speed, go to our angular acceleration calculator or rational kinetic energy calculator.

Average speed formula

Since the main purpose of this calculator is to calculate average speed, let's take a more in-depth look into this topic. Average speed is measured in units of distance per time, and the average speed formula looks like this:

average speed = total distance / total time

Typical units are kilometers per hour (kph), miles per hour (mph), meters per second (m/s) and feet per second (ft/s). In our mph calculator the default unit is mph (kph for metric-units countries), but you can change it to any of the common units.

Speed calculator - how to find your average speed?

Using this speed distance calculator is really easy, and you get the result immediately. Check below points and learn how to do the calculation steps properly:

  1. First, you need to determine the distance. This might be for example the distance you have driven from home to another city.
  2. Now, there is a need to determine the time it took to cover a certain distance.
  3. And here it is, you'll get the average speed.

You can also check the advanced mode of this average speed calculator. Here, you can compare what will be the difference in time if the object would travel with another average speed (positive value in case you are driving for a longer time and respectively negative value if you are driving for a shorter time). Click the advance mode button to get this feature.

Average speed vs average velocity

Speed and velocity might seem the same but they're not. Speed is a scalar quantity - it is defined by magnitude only. In simple terms, it tells you how fast an object is moving. On the other hand, velocity is a vector - it is defined not only by magnitude but also by direction. It tells you the rate at which an object changes its position.

Imagine you drove a car 100 meters forward and then 100 meters back. You would drive a certain average speed in each direction, but you would have zero average velocity, as velocity is measured as the rate at which the position of the car changes. Therefore, it is enough to say that the average speed of a car was 50 mph, but when calculating velocity we would have to add direction, let's say 50 mph east.

And if you would like to know how fast your speed or velocity was changing you would need to calculate acceleration.

Do you have a need... a need for speed? Take a look at some interesting facts and striking numbers in case of the speed of different objects and animals!

Nothing can go faster than the speed of light, even if we take into account that speed is a relative measurement. Light moves at the speed of 299 792 458 meters per second, what approximately gives 300 000 kilometers per hour or 186 000 miles per second. It takes for the light around 8 minutes to come from the Sun to Earth.

Sound moves in the air with the speed of around 343 meters per second, accordingly 1234.8 km/h or 767 mph (in the 20 °C / 68 °F atmospheric conditions). It means that sound wave in air needs about 2.9 seconds to travel one kilometer, or 4.7 seconds to travel a mile - this data might be useful for storm-hunters to determine the lighting distance. In the 2012 year, Austrian Felix Baumgartner broke the sound barrier (with his body!) during a free-fall from 228 000 feet. He reached the speed of 833.9 mph. To put it into context, the typical passenger of jet aircraft cruises at attitude of 33 000 - 35 000 feet, with a speed of around 500 mph (depending on the aircraft type as well as on the wind speed).

You probably heard that the fastest animal on the land is the cheetah, and it is true. The speeds it can reach are really incredible and the latest research show it is equal to 58 mph! Another amazing example is the peregrine falcons. They can reach speeds exceeding... 200 mph in air (sic!). From the water animals, the fastest one is the atlantic sailfish - 68 mph in water.

How about people? Sprinter Usain Bolt is the fastest man ever in history, with a recorded speed of 27.44 mph. What is interesting, scientists found that a man who lived 20 000 years ago in Australia (called T8) ran with the speed of 23 mph. Note, he did it barefoot in the mud, while Bolt uses state-of-the-art running shoes and dedicated raceway.

Filip Derma, Mateusz Mucha and Joanna Andrzejewska.

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