Speed is the measurement of distance travelled over a unit of time. The distance travelled is divided by the time taken to travel that distance: 30 metres travelled in 2 seconds is `frac(30)(2)` = 15 metres per second.

Because the time is dividing into the distance, the units are also shown as dividing: the units are shown as `frac(m)(s)`, or ms-1.

For transport and other uses, the speed is shown as mph or kph, where mph is miles per hour, and kph is kilometres per hour.

The formula for speed is speed = distance ÷ time, or S = D/T.

Note for Higher students: Velocity has both a speed and a direction (it is a vector).


1. A lorry travels 215 miles for Guildford to Manchester. The journey takes 5 hours. What is the average speed of the lorry?

Answer: 43mph

Speed = Distance ÷ Time

Speed = 215 ÷ 5 = 43 miles per hour.

2. The same lorry continues from Manchester to go onto Penrith. If the driver can maintain the same speed, and leaves at 2.40pm, when can he expect to arrive in Penrith, which is 107.5 miles away?

Answer: 5.10pm

Speed = Distance ÷ Time or S = D ÷ T

43 = 107.5 ÷ T

Multiply both sides by T (to remove the division by T):

43T = 107.5

Divide both sides by 43:

T = 107.5 ÷ 43 = 2.5

Add 2.5 hours (2 hours 30 minutes) to 2.40pm: 5.10pm