Chapter 8: Rational Expressions

# 8.8 Rate Word Problems: Speed, Distance and Time

Distance, rate and time problems are a standard application of linear equations. When solving these problems, use the relationship **rate** (speed or velocity) times **time** equals **distance**.

[latex]r\cdot t=d[/latex]

For example, suppose a person were to travel 30 km/h for 4 h. To find the total distance, multiply rate times time or (30km/h)(4h) = 120 km.

The problems to be solved here will have a few more steps than described above. So to keep the information in the problem organized, use a table. An example of the basic structure of the table is below:

Who or What | Rate | Time | Distance |
---|---|---|---|

The third column, distance, will always be filled in by multiplying the rate and time columns together. If given a total distance of both persons or trips, put this information in the distance column. Now use this table to set up and solve the following examples.

Example 8.8.1

Joey and Natasha start from the same point and walk in opposite directions. Joey walks 2 km/h faster than Natasha. After 3 hours, they are 30 kilometres apart. How fast did each walk?

Who or What | Rate | Time | Distance |
---|---|---|---|

Natasha | [latex]r[/latex] | [latex]\text{3 h}[/latex] | [latex]\text{3 h}(r)[/latex] |

Joey | [latex]r + 2[/latex] | [latex]\text{3 h}[/latex] | [latex]\text{3 h}(r + 2)[/latex] |

The distance travelled by both is 30 km. Therefore, the equation to be solved is:

[latex]\begin{array}{rrrrrrl} 3r&+&3(r&+&2)&=&30 \\ 3r&+&3r&+&6&=&30 \\ &&&-&6&&-6 \\ \hline &&&&\dfrac{6r}{6}&=&\dfrac{24}{6} \\ \\ &&&&r&=&4 \text{ km/h} \end{array}[/latex]

This means that Natasha walks at 4 km/h and Joey walks at 6 km/h.

Example 8.8.2

Nick and Chloe left their campsite by canoe and paddled downstream at an average speed of 12 km/h. They turned around and paddled back upstream at an average rate of 4 km/h. The total trip took 1 hour. After how much time did the campers turn around downstream?

Who or What | Rate | Time | Distance |
---|---|---|---|

Downstream | [latex]\text{12 km/h}[/latex] | [latex]t[/latex] | [latex]\text{12 km/h } (t)[/latex] |

Upstream | [latex]\text{4 km/h}[/latex] | [latex](1 - t)[/latex] | [latex]\text{4 km/h } (1 - t)[/latex] |

The distance travelled downstream is the same distance that they travelled upstream. Therefore, the equation to be solved is:

[latex]\begin{array}{rrlll} 12(t)&=&4(1&-&t) \\ 12t&=&4&-&4t \\ +4t&&&+&4t \\ \hline \dfrac{16t}{16}&=&\dfrac{4}{16}&& \\ \\ t&=&0.25&& \end{array}[/latex]

This means the campers paddled downstream for 0.25 h and spent 0.75 h paddling back.

Example 8.8.3

Terry leaves his house riding a bike at 20 km/h. Sally leaves 6 h later on a scooter to catch up with him travelling at 80 km/h. How long will it take her to catch up with him?

Who or What | Rate | Time | Distance |
---|---|---|---|

Terry | [latex]\text{20 km/h}[/latex] | [latex]t[/latex] | [latex]\text{20 km/h }(t)[/latex] |

Sally | [latex]\text{80 km/h}[/latex] | [latex](t - \text{6 h})[/latex] | [latex]\text{80 km/h }(t - \text {6 h})[/latex] |

The distance travelled by both is the same. Therefore, the equation to be solved is:

[latex]\begin{array}{rrrrr} 20(t)&=&80(t&-&6) \\ 20t&=&80t&-&480 \\ -80t&&-80t&& \\ \hline \dfrac{-60t}{-60}&=&\dfrac{-480}{-60}&& \\ \\ t&=&8&& \end{array}[/latex]

This means that Terry travels for 8 h and Sally only needs 2 h to catch up to him.

Example 8.8.4

On a 130-kilometre trip, a car travelled at an average speed of 55 km/h and then reduced its speed to 40 km/h for the remainder of the trip. The trip took 2.5 h. For how long did the car travel 40 km/h?

Who or What | Rate | Time | Distance |
---|---|---|---|

Fifty-five | [latex]\text{55 km/h}[/latex] | [latex]t[/latex] | [latex]\text{55 km/h }(t)[/latex] |

Forty | [latex]\text{40 km/h}[/latex] | [latex](\text{2.5 h}-t)[/latex] | [latex]\text{40 km/h }(\text{2.5 h}-t)[/latex] |

The distance travelled by both is 30 km. Therefore, the equation to be solved is:

[latex]\begin{array}{rrrrrrr} 55(t)&+&40(2.5&-&t)&=&130 \\ 55t&+&100&-&40t&=&130 \\ &-&100&&&&-100 \\ \hline &&&&\dfrac{15t}{15}&=&\dfrac{30}{15} \\ \\ &&&&t&=&2 \end{array}[/latex]

This means that the time spent travelling at 40 km/h was 0.5 h.

Distance, time and rate problems have a few variations that mix the unknowns between distance, rate and time. They generally involve solving a problem that uses the combined distance travelled to equal some distance or a problem in which the distances travelled by both parties is the same. These distance, rate and time problems will be revisited later on in this textbook where quadratic solutions are required to solve them.

# Questions

For Questions 1 to 8, find the equations needed to solve the problems. Do not solve.

- A is 60 kilometres from B. An automobile at A starts for B at the rate of 20 km/h at the same time that an automobile at B starts for A at the rate of 25 km/h. How long will it be before the automobiles meet?
- Two automobiles are 276 kilometres apart and start to travel toward each other at the same time. They travel at rates differing by 5 km/h. If they meet after 6 h, find the rate of each.
- Two trains starting at the same station head in opposite directions. They travel at the rates of 25 and 40 km/h, respectively. If they start at the same time, how soon will they be 195 kilometres apart?
- Two bike messengers, Jerry and Susan, ride in opposite directions. If Jerry rides at the rate of 20 km/h, at what rate must Susan ride if they are 150 kilometres apart in 5 hours?
- A passenger and a freight train start toward each other at the same time from two points 300 kilometres apart. If the rate of the passenger train exceeds the rate of the freight train by 15 km/h, and they meet after 4 hours, what must the rate of each be?
- Two automobiles started travelling in opposite directions at the same time from the same point. Their rates were 25 and 35 km/h, respectively. After how many hours were they 180 kilometres apart?
- A man having ten hours at his disposal made an excursion by bike, riding out at the rate of 10 km/h and returning on foot at the rate of 3 km/h. Find the distance he rode.
- A man walks at the rate of 4 km/h. How far can he walk into the country and ride back on a trolley that travels at the rate of 20 km/h, if he must be back home 3 hours from the time he started?

Solve Questions 9 to 22.

- A boy rides away from home in an automobile at the rate of 28 km/h and walks back at the rate of 4 km/h. The round trip requires 2 hours. How far does he ride?
- A motorboat leaves a harbour and travels at an average speed of 15 km/h toward an island. The average speed on the return trip was 10 km/h. How far was the island from the harbour if the trip took a total of 5 hours?
- A family drove to a resort at an average speed of 30 km/h and later returned over the same road at an average speed of 50 km/h. Find the distance to the resort if the total driving time was 8 hours.
- As part of his flight training, a student pilot was required to fly to an airport and then return. The average speed to the airport was 90 km/h, and the average speed returning was 120 km/h. Find the distance between the two airports if the total flying time was 7 hours.
- Sam starts travelling at 4 km/h from a campsite 2 hours ahead of Sue, who travels 6 km/h in the same direction. How many hours will it take for Sue to catch up to Sam?
- A man travels 5 km/h. After travelling for 6 hours, another man starts at the same place as the first man did, following at the rate of 8 km/h. When will the second man overtake the first?
- A motorboat leaves a harbour and travels at an average speed of 8 km/h toward a small island. Two hours later, a cabin cruiser leaves the same harbour and travels at an average speed of 16 km/h toward the same island. How many hours after the cabin cruiser leaves will it be alongside the motorboat?
- A long distance runner started on a course, running at an average speed of 6 km/h. One hour later, a second runner began the same course at an average speed of 8 km/h. How long after the second runner started will they overtake the first runner?
- Two men are travelling in opposite directions at the rate of 20 and 30 km/h at the same time and from the same place. In how many hours will they be 300 kilometres apart?
- Two trains start at the same time from the same place and travel in opposite directions. If the rate of one is 6 km/h more than the rate of the other and they are 168 kilometres apart at the end of 4 hours, what is the rate of each?
- Two cyclists start from the same point and ride in opposite directions. One cyclist rides twice as fast as the other. In three hours, they are 72 kilometres apart. Find the rate of each cyclist.
- Two small planes start from the same point and fly in opposite directions. The first plane is flying 25 km/h slower than the second plane. In two hours, the planes are 430 kilometres apart. Find the rate of each plane.
- On a 130-kilometre trip, a car travelled at an average speed of 55 km/h and then reduced its speed to 40 km/h for the remainder of the trip. The trip took a total of 2.5 hours. For how long did the car travel at 40 km/h?
- Running at an average rate of 8 m/s, a sprinter ran to the end of a track and then jogged back to the starting point at an average of 3 m/s. The sprinter took 55 s to run to the end of the track and jog back. Find the length of the track.