This speed calculator is a tool that helps you determine the average speed of a moving object based on the distance traveled over a certain time traveled. Whether you are test driving your brand new car, or just going for a quick jog or cycle, if you want to know how to find average speed, this calculator will come in handy.

In the article below, you can find a lot of valuable information, like what the average speed formula is. We will also give you a few curious speed facts (e.g., speed of sound). Check this speed distance calculator and finally find an answer to the question how fast am I going?

Speed, distance, time

We have all heard of speed, but how confident are you in your understanding of this concept? Speed is, by definition, purely related and connected to physics. However, when you take the time to think about it, you don't see the vectors and formulas from your textbook, but instead a cyclist, flying jet or speedometer needle. We mostly associate speed with moving objects than with scientific equations. What is more, we have a sense that tells us how quickly we are traveling at, that is we can sense whether we are moving fast or not. For example, when you drive a car at a speed of 50 km/h, this is not too fast relative to the max speed of the car, but when you ride a bike with the same speed, it fells like a lot. So, we can say that the human perception of speed is relative.

Automobiles and trains measure speed in kilometers per hour (kph) or in miles per hour (mph), and on airplanes and ships we usually use knots (kn). On the other hand, physicists most often use the SI 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.

You are driving along the long, open highway. You glance down at the speedometer of your car; it reads 100 kilometers per hour. From this, you know how far you will drive if you keep the speed constant. We know that, in practice, keeping the speed exactly constant is almost impossible (although, on a highway with cruise control, it is nearly possible), and our speed fluctuates all the time, more or less. The actual distance you travel in an hour is the 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 does the number your speedometer indicates really mean? That is your instantaneous speed; your speed at this exact moment. According to the textbook definition, the instantaneous speed is the change in object position, x, between two times, t₁ and t₂ (where this time interval approaches zero, i.e., t₂ - t₁ -> 0).

The rotational speed is a slightly different term, related rather to rotating objects than 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 out more about the topic of angular speed, go to our angular acceleration calculator or the 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 at 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 between any of the common units.

Speed calculator - how to find your average speed?

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

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

You can also click the advanced mode button, you will access the extra functionality of this average speed calculator. Here, you can compare what the difference in time will be if the object was traveling at another average speed (a positive value if the object is traveling for a longer time and a negative value if the object is traveling for a shorter time).

Average speed vs average velocity

Speed and velocity might seem to be the same thing, 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 at 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, and, overall, the car didn't change its position. 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. The time it takes for the light from the Sun to reach the Earth is around 8 minutes.

Sound moves through the air at a speed of around 343 meters per second, which is 1234.8 km/h or 767 mph (at 20 °C / 68 °F). It means that a 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 2012, 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 an attitude of 33 000 - 35 000 feet, at a speed of around 500 mph (depending on the aircraft type as well as on the wind speed).

You've probably heard that the fastest animal on the land is the cheetah, and it is true. Its maximum speed is really incredible, and, according to the latest research, it can reach speeds of up to 58 mph! Another amazing example is the peregrine falcons. They can reach speeds exceeding... 200 mph in air! In water, the fastest animal is the atlantic sailfish - 68 mph in water.

What about people? Sprinter Usain Bolt is the fastest man ever in recorded 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 track.

Filip Derma, Mateusz Mucha and Joanna Andrzejewska.

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