Motion Problem Solving

Jane and Peter leave their home traveling in opposite directions on a straight road.

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Uniform motion problems may involve objects going the same direction, opposite directions, or round trips. A high-speed train leaves the same station an hour later. The second train follows the same route as the first train on a track parallel to the first.

In the diagram below, the two vehicles are traveling the same direction at different rates. Since the distances are equal, the products of rate and time for the two cars are equal. A table can also help you understand relationships in distance-rate-time problems. In how many hours will the second train catch up with the first train?

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The same rules apply; you may just need to apply them more than once to solve a problem. You need to individually determine the time for each driver, then determine the time of arrival based on information given in the problem. Once you know two, you can solve for the third using algebraic rules.

Remember to use logic as you consider the problem and always to return to the actual problem when you are ready to state your solution so that your solution is given in terms of the problem. Complex problems sometimes require multiple steps, but the steps always follow the same logic.

Also, remember that sometimes there will be additional steps required after your solution is found. Look for things that are the same and always look for those variables to determine what you know and what you need to find.

Don't forget to format your answer in terms of the problem. We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities.

The good news is that because the motion is uniform, the formula is quite straightforward and easy to work with.

The formula for uniform motion is d = rt, meaning distance is equal to rate times time.

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