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Average Speed Problems


There are three main types of average problems commonly encountered in school algebra: Average (Arithmetic Mean), Weighted Average and Average Speed.

In the lesson, we will learn how to solve average speed problems.

Related Topics: More Algebra Word Problems

Examples of Average Speed Problems

Computation of average speed is a trickier type of average problems. Average speed uses the formula:

average speed formula


John drove for 3 hours at a rate of 50 miles per hour and for 2 hours at 60 miles per hour. What was his average speed for the whole journey?


Step 1: The formula for distance is

Distance = Rate × Time
Total distance = 50 × 3 + 60 × 2 = 270

Step 2: Total time = 3 + 2 = 5

Step 3: Using the formula

average speed formula
270/5 = 54

Answer: The average speed is 54 miles per hour.

Be careful! You will get the wrong answer if you add the two speeds and divide the answer by two.

The following video gives another example of how to solve the average speed problem. How to calculate average speed.
If I drive from Oxford to Cambridge at 40 miles per hour and then from Cambridge to Oxford at 60 miles per hour, what is my average speed for the whole journey?


Find the average speed for a round trip.
On Alberto's drive to his aunt's house, the traffic was light, and he drove the 45-mile trip in one hour. However, the return trip took his two hours. What was his average trip for the round trip?

Find the average speed of an airplane with good and bad weather.
Mae took a non-stop flight to visit her grandmother. The 750-mile trip took three hours and 45 minutes. Because of the bad weather, the return trip took four hours and 45 minutes. What was her average speed for the round trip?


The following videos looks at calculating average speed in word problems.


How to use average speed to calculate distance traveled
Elle drives 169 miles from Sheffield to London. Her average speed is 65 mph. She leaves Sheffield at 6:30 a.m. Does she arrive in London by 9:00 a.m.?

Example: Marie Ann is trying to predict the time required to ride her bike to the nearby beach. She knows that the distance is 45 km and, from other trips, that she can usually average about 20 km/h. Predict how long the trip will take.

You can use the Mathway widget below to practice Algebra or other math topics. Try the given examples, or type in your own problem. Then click "Answer" to check your answer.

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