Today’s vehicles feature anti-lock braking technology yet most drivers do not understand how anti-lock brakes work. The average driver assumes he or she can slam the brake pedal and stop in nearly a moment’s notice. Though anti-lock brakes certainly stop vehicles in surprisingly little time, there are some strategies every driver should employ to maximize the efficiency of this braking technology and ultimately enhance on-road safety. Let’s take a quick look at the best techniques that will help you get the most out of your vehicle’s anti-lock brakes.

A Plain English Explanation of Anti-lock Brakes

Often referred to with the acronym of ABS, anti-lock brakes are engineered to ensure vehicle wheels remain firmly connected to the surface of the road amidst emergency braking scenarios. The purpose of this automotive technology is to enhance the driver’s control when it is needed most. The superior traction provided by anti-lock brakes ultimately prevents the vehicle from sliding or skidding across the road and colliding with another vehicle or stationary object.

Maintain Consistent Pressure on the Brake Pedal

Chances are you drive a vehicle equipped with anti-lock brakes. Though there are some older models on the road lacking this braking technology, those antiquated vehicles are few and far between. Every driver of a vehicle equipped with ABS should understand it is a mistake to pump the brakes. The better approach is to keep consistent pressure against the brake pedal. If you were to pump the brakes rather than apply the recommended steady pressure, the anti-lock braking system would disengage.

Steady pressure should still be applied to the brake pedal even in the event that it pulsates while you are attempting to stop the vehicle. Such pulsation occurs when the brakes are briefly released in instances of wheel lock-ups. This phenomenon occurs in an instantaneous manner, several times per second, so don’t be alarmed. Your only chance of braking in time to avoid a collision is to keep pressing your foot to the brake pedal with ongoing pressure even amidst pulsation.

Take a Look at Your Vehicle’s Owner Manual

The anti-lock braking system in your vehicle might be a little bit different from that of other vehicle makes and models. Read the owner’s manual and you just might learn a thing or two about the nuances of your vehicle’s anti-lock braking system. If the owner’s manual provides any helpful advice in regard to the use of your vehicle’s anti-lock braking system, commit it to memory so you can stop your vehicle as quickly as possible when those inevitable emergency situations arise on the road.

Anti-lock Brakes Typically Require Several Seconds to Reach a Full Stop

Though anti-lock braking technology is certainly advanced, it is not miraculous. If you do not leave enough distance and time to stop and avoid a collision with another vehicle or stationary object, there is a good chance you will be involved in a crash. In general, you will need a minimum of three seconds to reach a full stop with anti-lock braking technology. However, your rate of speed combined with road conditions and the quality of your brakes ultimately determine the amount of time and distance necessary to reach a full stop.

Practice Makes Perfect

Practicing sudden stops in a vacant parking lot or other open space has the potential to save your life. The bottom line is a driver who has a feel for his or her vehicle’s brakes and understands the physics of the anti-lock braking system is that much more likely to remain safe on the road. Practice sudden stops in a safe area, get a feel for your vehicle’s brake pulsations, and you really will react that much better when dramatic on-road situations arise.