Saskatchewan Driver's Handbook

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The general procedure for braking is to begin early, apply light pressure and ease up on the brake as the vehicle comes to a stop. Always brake with your right foot.

If you want to stop more quickly, push the brake down a little further.

Remember, for normal braking you control the stop by varying the pressure. Do not push the brake down as far as it will go.

Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) - was introduced in the mid-1980s and has become standard equipment on most newer vehicles. It was designed to help drivers maintain some steering ability and avoid skidding while braking. In normal braking, ABS is not activated. During hard braking, vehicles with ABS remain stable. The brakes do not lock up, which means the driver has more steering control. How do you use ABS? Press the brake firmly and do not release until the vehicle has stopped. Do not pump your brakes; the ABS is doing it for you.

When the ABS is active, the brake pedal may pulsate and the car may shudder or emit clunking noises. This can startle some drivers, causing them to release the brake, but these things are normal and indicate the ABS is functioning properly.

You may think that with ABS you can stop on a dime. This instantaneous stop is not realistic. When braking on dry or wet roads your stopping distance will be about the same as with conventional brakes.

You should allow for a longer stopping distance with ABS than with conventional brakes when driving on gravel, slush and snow. This is because the rotating tire will stay on top of this low-traction road surface covering and effectively "float" on this layer.

A non-ABS-braked vehicle can lock its tires and create a snow plow effect in front of the tires that may, in some cases, help slow the vehicle. These locked tires can sometimes find more traction below this layer.

It is recommended you refer to your vehicle owner's manual to become familiar with proper practices should your vehicle have electronic stability control, traction control, or other safety features.

Threshold braking

In threshold braking, you are trying to use all the braking force available without locking the wheels, i.e., you are trying for the "threshold" just before lock-up. To accomplish this, shift to neutral (declutch) and brake until you feel one or more wheels lock, then, ease up the brake slightly until the wheels are all rolling again. Reapply pressure until you feel one of the wheels start to lock up, ease off slightly and continue this movement, tracking the threshold until you stop. As the vehicle slows, you can brake harder before lock-up will occur.

The more slippery the surface, the less you will be able to push the brake before a wheel locks.

The skill in threshold braking comes from being able to linger just short of lock-up. To threshold brake well requires much effort and concentration. While it is usually the technique of choice, it is almost impossible to do if you panic.

Four-wheel lock braking

With this technique, you shift to neutral (declutch) and then hit the brakes very hard so that all four wheels lock at the same time. Since most cars are not designed to do this, you need to stomp on the brake pedal and keep maximum pressure on the brake until you come to a complete stop.

Your vehicle will travel in a straight line. If all four wheels do not lock at exactly the same time, or if the surface under different tires varies, the vehicle may rotate a little before it finally stops. Even under the worst conditions (one wheel on ice, one wheel on dry pavement), the vehicle will travel in a straight line, although it may revolve around a point in the middle of the vehicle.

You need very little pressure to lock the wheels on ice. As the traction increases, you must increase the pressure to lock the wheels. On dry pavement, you really have to stomp on the brake to lock all four wheels simultaneously. You must also be seated sufficiently close to the brake pedal to get the leverage required.

The four-wheel lock will produce the shortest stopping distance on all surfaces, except glare ice. It is also an ideal technique to use if you panic because stomping on the brake is a natural reaction. Also, once you stomp on the brake, you do not have to do anything except keep pressure on the brake.

If possible, try the four-wheel lock when you are with a trained instructor. Otherwise, practise at low speeds (20 - 40 km/h) on a wet surface. If you try this procedure on dry pavement, you may damage your tires, which is acceptable if you are trying to avoid a crash, but not recommended if you are just practising.