By the end of this section, you will be able to:
- Solve uniform motion applications
Before you get started, take this readiness quiz.
Solve Uniform Motion Applications
When planning a road trip, it often helps to know how long it will take to reach the destination or how far to travel each day. We would use the distance, rate, and time formula, which we have already seen.
In this section, we will use this formula in situations that require a little more algebra to solve than the ones we saw earlier. Generally, we will be looking at comparing two scenarios, such as two vehicles travelling at different rates or in opposite directions. When the speed of each vehicle is constant, we call applications like this uniform motion problems.
Our problem-solving strategies will still apply here, but we will add to the first step. The first step will include drawing a diagram that shows what is happening in the example. Drawing the diagram helps us understand what is happening so that we will write an appropriate equation. Then we will make a table to organize the information, like we did for the money applications.
The steps are listed here for easy reference:
Use a Problem-Solving Strategy in Distance, Rate, and Time Applications.
- Step 1. Read the problem. Make sure all the words and ideas are understood.
- Draw a diagram to illustrate what it happening.
- Create a table to organize the information.
- Label the columns rate, time, distance.
- List the two scenarios.
- Write in the information you know.
- Step 2. Identify what we are looking for.
- Step 3. Name what we are looking for. Choose a variable to represent that quantity.
- Complete the chart.
- Use variable expressions to represent that quantity in each row.
- Multiply the rate times the time to get the distance.
- Step 4. Translate into an equation.
- Restate the problem in one sentence with all the important information.
- Then, translate the sentence into an equation.
- Step 5. Solve the equation using good algebra techniques.
- Step 6. Check the answer in the problem and make sure it makes sense.
- Step 7. Answer the question with a complete sentence.
An express train and a local train leave Pittsburgh to travel to Washington, D.C. The express train can make the trip in 4 hours and the local train takes 5 hours for the trip. The speed of the express train is 12 miles per hour faster than the speed of the local train. Find the speed of both trains.
Wayne and Dennis like to ride the bike path from Riverside Park to the beach. Dennis’s speed is seven miles per hour faster than Wayne’s speed, so it takes Wayne 2 hours to ride to the beach while it takes Dennis 1.5 hours for the ride. Find the speed of both bikers.
Jeromy can drive from his house in Cleveland to his college in Chicago in 4.5 hours. It takes his mother 6 hours to make the same drive. Jeromy drives 20 miles per hour faster than his mother. Find Jeromy’s speed and his mother’s speed.
In Example 3.48, the last example, we had two trains traveling the same distance. The diagram and the chart helped us write the equation we solved. Let’s see how this works in another case.
Christopher and his parents live 115 miles apart. They met at a restaurant between their homes to celebrate his mother’s birthday. Christopher drove 1.5 hours while his parents drove 1 hour to get to the restaurant. Christopher’s average speed was 10 miles per hour faster than his parents’ average speed. What were the average speeds of Christopher and of his parents as they drove to the restaurant?
Carina is driving from her home in Anaheim to Berkeley on the same day her brother is driving from Berkeley to Anaheim, so they decide to meet for lunch along the way in Buttonwillow. The distance from Anaheim to Berkeley is 410 miles. It takes Carina 3 hours to get to Buttonwillow, while her brother drives 4 hours to get there. The average speed Carina’s brother drove was 15 miles per hour faster than Carina’s average speed. Find Carina’s and her brother’s average speeds.
Ashley goes to college in Minneapolis, 234 miles from her home in Sioux Falls. She wants her parents to bring her more winter clothes, so they decide to meet at a restaurant on the road between Minneapolis and Sioux Falls. Ashley and her parents both drove 2 hours to the restaurant. Ashley’s average speed was seven miles per hour faster than her parents’ average speed. Find Ashley’s and her parents’ average speed.
As you read the next example, think about the relationship of the distances traveled. Which of the previous two examples is more similar to this situation?
Two truck drivers leave a rest area on the interstate at the same time. One truck travels east and the other one travels west. The truck traveling west travels at 70 mph and the truck traveling east has an average speed of 60 mph. How long will they travel before they are 325 miles apart?
Pierre and Monique leave their home in Portland at the same time. Pierre drives north on the turnpike at a speed of 75 miles per hour while Monique drives south at a speed of 68 miles per hour. How long will it take them to be 429 miles apart?
Thanh and Nhat leave their office in Sacramento at the same time. Thanh drives north on I-5 at a speed of 72 miles per hour. Nhat drives south on I-5 at a speed of 76 miles per hour. How long will it take them to be 330 miles apart?
It is important to make sure the units match when we use the distance rate and time formula. For instance, if the rate is in miles per hour, then the time must be in hours.
When Katie Mae walks to school, it takes her 30 minutes. If she rides her bike, it takes her 15 minutes. Her speed is three miles per hour faster when she rides her bike than when she walks. What are her walking speed and her speed riding her bike?
Suzy takes 50 minutes to hike uphill from the parking lot to the lookout tower. It takes her 30 minutes to hike back down to the parking lot. Her speed going downhill is 1.2 miles per hour faster than her speed going uphill. Find Suzy’s uphill and downhill speeds.
Llewyn takes 45 minutes to drive his boat upstream from the dock to his favorite fishing spot. It takes him 30 minutes to drive the boat back downstream to the dock. The boat’s speed going downstream is four miles per hour faster than its speed going upstream. Find the boat’s upstream and downstream speeds.
In the distance, rate, and time formula, time represents the actual amount of elapsed time (in hours, minutes, etc.). If a problem gives us starting and ending times as clock times, we must find the elapsed time in order to use the formula.
Hamilton loves to travel to Las Vegas, 255 miles from his home in Orange County. On his last trip, he left his house at 2:00 pm. The first part of his trip was on congested city freeways. At 4:00 pm, the traffic cleared and he was able to drive through the desert at a speed 1.75 times as fast as when he drove in the congested area. He arrived in Las Vegas at 6:30 pm. How fast was he driving during each part of his trip?
Cruz is training to compete in a triathlon. He left his house at 6:00 and ran until 7:30. Then he rode his bike until 9:45. He covered a total distance of 51 miles. His speed when biking was 1.6 times his speed when running. Find Cruz’s biking and running speeds.
Phuong left home on his bicycle at 10:00. He rode on the flat street until 11:15, then rode uphill until 11:45. He rode a total of 31 miles. His speed riding uphill was 0.6 times his speed on the flat street. Find his speed biking uphill and on the flat street.
Section 3.5 Exercises
Practice Makes Perfect
Solve Uniform Motion Applications
In the following exercises, solve.
Lilah is moving from Portland to Seattle. It takes her three hours to go by train. Mason leaves the train station in Portland and drives to the train station in Seattle with all Lilah’s boxes in his car. It takes him 2.4 hours to get to Seattle, driving at 15 miles per hour faster than the speed of the train. Find Mason’s speed and the speed of the train.
Kathy and Cheryl are walking in a fundraiser. Kathy completes the course in 4.8 hours and Cheryl completes the course in 8 hours. Kathy walks two miles per hour faster than Cheryl. Find Kathy’s speed and Cheryl’s speed.
Two busses go from Sacramento for San Diego. The express bus makes the trip in 6.8 hours and the local bus takes 10.2 hours for the trip. The speed of the express bus is 25 mph faster than the speed of the local bus. Find the speed of both busses.
A commercial jet and a private airplane fly from Denver to Phoenix. It takes the commercial jet 1.1 hours for the flight, and it takes the private airplane 1.8 hours. The speed of the commercial jet is 210 miles per hour faster than the speed of the private airplane. Find the speed of both airplanes.
Saul drove his truck 3 hours from Dallas towards Kansas City and stopped at a truck stop to get dinner. At the truck stop he met Erwin, who had driven 4 hours from Kansas City towards Dallas. The distance between Dallas and Kansas City is 542 miles, and Erwin’s speed was eight miles per hour slower than Saul’s speed. Find the speed of the two truckers.
Charlie and Violet met for lunch at a restaurant between Memphis and New Orleans. Charlie had left Memphis and drove 4.8 hours towards New Orleans. Violet had left New Orleans and drove 2 hours towards Memphis, at a speed 10 miles per hour faster than Charlie’s speed. The distance between Memphis and New Orleans is 394 miles. Find the speed of the two drivers.
Sisters Helen and Anne live 332 miles apart. For Thanksgiving, they met at their other sister’s house partway between their homes. Helen drove 3.2 hours and Anne drove 2.8 hours. Helen’s average speed was four miles per hour faster than Anne’s. Find Helen’s average speed and Anne’s average speed.
Ethan and Leo start riding their bikes at the opposite ends of a 65-mile bike path. After Ethan has ridden 1.5 hours and Leo has ridden 2 hours, they meet on the path. Ethan’s speed is six miles per hour faster than Leo’s speed. Find the speed of the two bikers.
Elvira and Aletheia live 3.1 miles apart on the same street. They are in a study group that meets at a coffee shop between their houses. It took Elvira half an hour and Aletheia two-thirds of an hour to walk to the coffee shop. Aletheia’s speed is 0.6 miles per hour slower than Elvira’s speed. Find both women’s walking speeds.
DaMarcus and Fabian live 23 miles apart and play soccer at a park between their homes. DaMarcus rode his bike for three-quarters of an hour and Fabian rode his bike for half an hour to get to the park. Fabian’s speed was six miles per hour faster than DaMarcus’ speed. Find the speed of both soccer players.
Cindy and Richard leave their dorm in Charleston at the same time. Cindy rides her bicycle north at a speed of 18 miles per hour. Richard rides his bicycle south at a speed of 14 miles per hour. How long will it take them to be 96 miles apart?
Matt and Chris leave their uncle’s house in Phoenix at the same time. Matt drives west on I-60 at a speed of 76 miles per hour. Chris drives east on I-60 at a speed of 82 miles per hour. How many hours will it take them to be 632 miles apart?
Two busses leave Billings at the same time. The Seattle bus heads west on I-90 at a speed of 73 miles per hour while the Chicago bus heads east at a speed of 79 miles an hour. How many hours will it take them to be 532 miles apart?
Two boats leave the same dock in Cairo at the same time. One heads north on the Mississippi River while the other heads south. The northbound boat travels four miles per hour. The southbound boat goes eight miles per hour. How long will it take them to be 54 miles apart?
Lorena walks the path around the park in 30 minutes. If she jogs, it takes her 20 minutes. Her jogging speed is 1.5 miles per hour faster than her walking speed. Find Lorena’s walking speed and jogging speed.
Julian rides his bike uphill for 45 minutes, then turns around and rides back downhill. It takes him 15 minutes to get back to where he started. His uphill speed is 3.2 miles per hour slower than his downhill speed. Find Julian’s uphill and downhill speed.
Cassius drives his boat upstream for 45 minutes. It takes him 30 minutes to return downstream. His speed going upstream is three miles per hour slower than his speed going downstream. Find his upstream and downstream speeds.
It takes Darline 20 minutes to drive to work in light traffic. To come home, when there is heavy traffic, it takes her 36 minutes. Her speed in light traffic is 24 miles per hour faster than her speed in heavy traffic. Find her speed in light traffic and in heavy traffic.
At 1:30 Marlon left his house to go to the beach, a distance of 7.6 miles. He rode his skateboard until 2:15, then walked the rest of the way. He arrived at the beach at 3:00. Marlon’s speed on his skateboard is 2.5 times his walking speed. Find his speed when skateboarding and when walking.
Aaron left at 9:15 to drive to his mountain cabin 108 miles away. He drove on the freeway until 10:45, and then he drove on the mountain road. He arrived at 11:05. His speed on the freeway was three times his speed on the mountain road. Find Aaron’s speed on the freeway and on the mountain road.
Marisol left Los Angeles at 2:30 to drive to Santa Barbara, a distance of 95 miles. The traffic was heavy until 3:20. She drove the rest of the way in very light traffic and arrived at 4:20. Her speed in heavy traffic was 40 miles per hour slower than her speed in light traffic. Find her speed in heavy traffic and in light traffic.
Lizette is training for a marathon. At 7:00 she left her house and ran until 8:15, then she walked until 11:15. She covered a total distance of 19 miles. Her running speed was five miles per hour faster than her walking speed. Find her running and walking speeds.
John left his house in Irvine at 8:35 am to drive to a meeting in Los Angeles, 45 miles away. He arrived at the meeting at 9:50. At 3:30 pm, he left the meeting and drove home. He arrived home at 5:18.
- ⓐ What was his average speed on the drive from Irvine to Los Angeles?
- ⓑ What was his average speed on the drive from Los Angeles to Irvine?
- ⓒ What was the total time he spent driving to and from this meeting?
- ⓓ John drove a total of 90 miles roundtrip. Find his average speed. (Round to the nearest tenth.)
Sarah wants to arrive at her friend’s wedding at 3:00. The distance from Sarah’s house to the wedding is 95 miles. Based on usual traffic patterns, Sarah predicts she can drive the first 15 miles at 60 miles per hour, the next 10 miles at 30 miles per hour, and the remainder of the drive at 70 miles per hour.
- ⓐ How long will it take Sarah to drive the first 15 miles?
- ⓑ How long will it take Sarah to drive the next 10 miles?
- ⓒ How long will it take Sarah to drive the rest of the trip?
- ⓓ What time should Sarah leave her house?
When solving a uniform motion problem, how does drawing a diagram of the situation help you?
When solving a uniform motion problem, how does creating a table help you?
ⓐ After completing the exercises, use this checklist to evaluate your mastery of the objectives of this section.
ⓑ What does this checklist tell you about your mastery of this section? What steps will you take to improve?