Your brakes are vital to the safe operation of your car. When used incorrectly, they often contribute to or cause accidents. Good braking technique is not only about how to use your brakes, it is also about knowing when and when not to use them.
In normal situations and ideal road surface conditions, using your brakes seems straightforward enough: you press down on the pedal when you want to slow down. However, it gets more complicated when driving on slippery surfaces or when handling emergency situations. This is when poor braking technique causes accidents. Here are five tips on safe braking:
- Stay off the brakes on black ice. When you hit a patch of black ice, don’t use the brakes. Instead, keep the car pointing straight ahead and let the car’s momentum take you straight over the ice. Your wheels have no traction on black ice and any kind of braking or steering action will cause loss of control.
- Stay off the brakes when a tire blows out. Loss of a tire makes your car unstable, and braking causes the car to tilt forward which can cause loss of control. Instead, drive in a straight line (do not turn) while firmly holding the steering wheel. Gently release the gas pedal and ride it out until you slow down enough so that you can pull to the shoulder.
- Avoid hard braking on sharp road bends. Braking hard causes the car to tilt forward which places more weight on the front tires and less weight on the rear tires. When this happens on a sharp bend, there may not be enough weight on the rear tires to resist the centrifugal force (the force that pulls you toward the outside of the turn). This can cause the rear of the car to fishtail or swing out toward the outside of the turn.
- Apply firm pressure to ABS brakes in braking emergencies. When you have zero options for swerving, apply firm pressure on your ABS brakes and maintain it to slow down as much as possible. A common mistake is failure to apply sufficient pressure. If there is room to swerve then do so smoothly while braking with ABS. Never jerk the steering wheel at high speeds.
- Don’t pump ABS brakes on slippery roads. Pumping the brakes weakens the braking effect. ABS brakes do this for you, so you need only apply steady pressure. Pumping is only appropriate for cars without ABS brakes.
If another motorist’s bad driving injured you in an accident, seek the legal advice of experienced Columbia accident lawyers. For a free no obligation consultation regarding your case, contact us.