Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Average velocity

  1. Sep 18, 2004 #1
    I know average velocity is V = displacement/time, but how do you find this with 3 different sets of numbers??

    A car travels along a straight stretch of road. It proceeds for 13.9 mi at 56 mi/h, then 29 mi at 42mi/h, and finally 32.2 mi at 35.2 mi/h. What is the car's average velocity during the entire trip? Answer in units of mi/h.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 18, 2004 #2
    [tex]V_{ave}= \frac{d_{total}}{t_{total}[/tex]

    Paden Roder
  4. Sep 18, 2004 #3
    Well, for some reason that didn't work.

    Ave Velocity= total distance/total time.

    Paden Roder
  5. Sep 18, 2004 #4
    I got (13.9 + 29 + 32.2) / (56 + 42 + 35.2) = .5638138138

    That's wrong, what did I do wrong??

  6. Sep 18, 2004 #5
    You are dividing the total distance by the sum of all the different speeds the car travelled at. This is wrong. You need to divide total distance travelled by the total time. To find the total time, you need to find the time travelled for each of the different speeds, then add them all up. Remember that time = Distance/Speed.

    Actually, I find this question kind of weird. To have travelled at different (decreasing) speeds, the car must have been decelerating. PRodQuanta's solution does not apply to real life (neither does the question) because the question assumes that the car made the transition from one speed to another instantaneously.
  7. Sep 18, 2004 #6
    Yeah, I guess only us physics people would notice that. I'm guessing kimi is taking an algebra based physics course. And if they talk about decelerations, then the problem gets a bit messier. I guess that since the distances are large, the author's intended calculation is still a very good approximation.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook