© 2020, Springer Nature B.V. A comprehensive investigation of velocity distribution is presented, and the log law is re-examined using experimental data from a smooth uniform open channel flow. It is widely reported that the coefficients of the log law in channel flows deviate from those obtained from circular pipe flows by Nikuradse (Laws of flow in rough pipes, 1933), but the mechanism is not clear and no theoretical formulae are available to express these deviations. A Laser Doppler Velocimetry system was used to measure velocity profiles at the centre of the channel. The data obtained support previous conclusions that the additive constant B of the log law in channel flows can no longer be considered to be 5.5. Interestingly, the experimental data also support Tracy and Lester’s discovery that the shear velocities on both sides of the log law are different. Better agreement can be achieved if the global shear velocity (U*1) is used to normalize the measured velocity, and the local shear velocity (U*2) is used to normalize the distance from the wall. Other researchers’ data in the literature also validates this new relationship. Based on this new relationship, a theoretical value of B is obtained, which agrees well with the observed B, thus a new form of log law for channel flow is suggested. The new relationship developed was verified with present experimental and past literature data suggesting its universality irrespective of wide or narrow open channels, or subcritical or super critical flow conditions. By using the developed relationship the large scatter associated with the additive constant B associated with the log law has been explained. It is found that the additive constant B in the log law is a function of channel aspect ratio. The developed relationship for B is validated from a wide range of data from the literature to confirm its universality.