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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 these lessons, 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.

How to solve the average speed problem?
How to calculate the average speed?

Example: The speed paradox: 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?

How to find the average speed for a round trip?
Example: 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? How to find the average speed of an airplane with good and bad weather?
Example: 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?

How to relate speed to distance and time?
If you are traveling in a car that travels 80km along a road in one hour, we say that you are traveling at an average of 80kn/h.
Average speed is the total distance divided by the total time for the trip. Therefore, speed is distance divided by time.
Instantaneous speed is the speed at which an object is traveling at any particular instant.
If the instantaneous speed of a car remains the same over a period of time, then we say that the car is traveling with constant speed.
The average speed of an object is the same as its instantaneous speed if that object is traveling at a constant speed. How to calculate average speed in word problems?
Keri rollerblades to school, a total distance of 4.5km. She has to slow down twice to cross busy streets, but overall the journey takes her 0.65h. What is Keri's average speed during the trip?

How to use average speed to calculate the distance traveled?
Example: 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.? How to use average speed to calculate the time taken?
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.


Rotate to landscape screen format on a mobile phone or small tablet to use the Mathway widget, a free math problem solver that answers your questions with step-by-step explanations.

You can use the free Mathway calculator and problem solver below to practice Algebra or other math topics. Try the given examples, or type in your own problem and check your answer with the step-by-step explanations.

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