Motoring Tips: Four (4) things you should know about braking

Your automobile’s brakes are essential to your safety and the safety of other road users. The job of the brakes is to bring the car to a stop when required – whether you are just parking or avoiding danger ahead. Understanding the factors that influence how effectively you can bring your car to a stop is important.

car tyres braking

How effectively you can stop your car depends on a number of factors. They include:

Your Reaction Time
Your reaction time is the time it takes you to notice that you need to hit the brake pedal and then actually hit it. This has to do with your concentration while driving as well as your reflexes. If you get distracted in a critical situation, your reaction time is more. If your reflexes are slow, your reaction time will be greater too. This is 100% the human factor: you, the driver.

Your Car’s Braking System
What kind of braking system is installed in your car also affects how effectively you can bring your car to a stop. If your car does not have ABS (anti-lock braking system), you need more skills to bring your car to a stop effectively. Without ABS, while driving at high speed, do not slam your foot on the brake pedal and hold it there, as your wheels will likely lock and the car go into a skid. Once in a skid, you lose control. What to do is pump your brakes repeatedly to bring the car to a stop.

With ABS in place, however, you can slam your foot on the brake pedal and hold it there. The ABS handles the rest and makes sure that your wheels do not lock, thus preventing you from losing steering control. Note that ABS may not bring your car to a stop fast enough to avoid an obstacle, but by keeping it from skidding, it ensures that you retain directional control and maneuvre better in critical situations.

Your Car’s Condition
The condition of your car includes a number of things, including:

1. the condition of your brake pads. Make sure they are not worn out.

2. your brake fluid and hydraulics. Make sure your brake fluid is topped up and there are no parts of the braking system leaking fluid.

3. tyres. Be sure that your tyres are properly inflated and that the treads are not worn out.

The Road’s Condition
Slippery and wet roads are trickier to handle. There is less friction between such roads and your tyres, compared to dry roads. As such, slippery and wet roads will require longer stopping periods. It is advisable to drive at slower speeds on wet and slippery roads. This increases your chances of stopping the car quickly should you need to.

Take note of the above factors and stay safe driving. Happy motoring!

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