Bringing your vehicle to a safe stop is simple as long as you follow a few basic rules. By staying alert and ready to brake, you'll help everyone on the road arrive at their destination safely.
Don't be surprised by potential hazards. Scan the road ahead for anything that might force you to brake, like vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists, animals and construction zones.
When you spot a potential hazard, it's often wise to take your foot off the accelerator and place it over the brake pedal - a trick called covering the brake.
An average reaction time, from the moment you identify a hazard to the time you press the brake is about 3/4 of a second. But by covering the brake, you can react even faster.
Know how to brake
When the time comes to stop, begin braking early. Apply light pressure to the pedal and gradually ease up as your vehicle comes to a halt. To stop more quickly, simply push the brake down a bit farther.
Although maintaining stability and control is essential to stopping safely, it has become a no-brainer for many drivers thanks to vehicle safety technology.
Antilock Braking System (ABS)
Introduced in the 1980's, ABS is designed to prevent skidding, even on slippery surfaces like snow and ice. ABS brakes don't need to be pumped. Instead, drivers need only brake firmly until their vehicle comes to a complete stop.
For vehicles without ABS, vehicle control can be maintained by using the threshold braking technique:
- Do not pump the brake.
- Instead, press the brake pedal about 1/2 way, as though you were braking normally.
- Slowly and steadily increase brake pressure until your wheels lock.
- Reduce brake pressure by a small amount until your wheels regain traction and start to rotate again.
- Maintain that pressure, making adjustments as needed to keep the brakes on the threshold of locking.
ABS performs this action automatically, but without it, an experienced driver can execute a brake lock-release cycle in just a few seconds. It's only a matter of practice.
Just remember that neither ABS nor threshold braking will allow your vehicle to stop on a dime. As you increase your speed, or if you drive on wet roads or gravel, your vehicle will take even longer to stop.