We remember quite well that the different car manufacturers introduced the antilock brake system (ABS) in the 1980s. Because of the numerous tests that proved its ability in helping drivers keep away from crashes that result from skidding on wet roads, the system was at once praised as a major safety feature. Of course, we know that today the antilock brake system is a standard apparatus on most new vehicles. In a lot of known instances, however, when the need for the antilock brakes is most crucial, as in during emergency stops, many drivers use them incorrectly.
The antilock brake system is designed in such a way that the antilock brakes are activated as soon as the system detects that one of the wheels is about to lock up. This automatic detection is usual as the driver applies steady and continuous pressure to the brake pedal. If your car is equipped with ABS, you ought to know that pumping the brakes when stopping suddenly is very dangerous – something that my nephew learned after being involved in a recent road mishap (fortunately, no one was injured in that accident).
When you pump the antilock brakes, the very technology you want to engage is instead deactivated. The antilock brake system works differently from the regular braking systems in that, when the driver slams on them, the antilock brakes will not lock up the wheels or cause the vehicle to skid out of control. The reason for this is that the ABS lessens brake pressure and pumps the brakes automatically until the wheels rotate correctly. As such, road grip is maximized, skidding is prevented, the driver is able to steer while braking, and a sudden stop becomes safely possible.
But the question as to whether or not the antilock brake system really reduces vehicle crashes persists. While the ABS continues to function very effectively on the test track, it has produced divergent results on the road. Studies conducted by the insurance industry concluded that the system does not significantly reduce crashes. On the other hand, studies made by the automobile industry revealed that the ABS lessened accidents on wet roads by as much as nineteen percent; car manufacturers are firm in their finding that antilock brakes prevented nonfatal crashes (albeit not fatal ones).
According to experts, some drivers are actually to be blamed for these inconsistencies. For example, while the ABS is engaged, a driver may hear grinding sounds and feel the vibration coming from the brake pedal; the driver then eases up and, in the process, unwittingly deactivates the system. In another instance, a driver may become too complacent or feel overconfident with his vehicle’s ABS because he mistakenly believes that it can stop safely whenever he engages it.
On dry roads, the antilock brake system makes little difference; it will actually make stopping distances on soft snow or gravel longer. It is, however, proven to be effective in wet conditions if used correctly.
Experts further make it clear that the antilock brake system, inspite of its safety benefits, does not enable drivers to drive more aggressively or allow them to negotiate sharp turns faster. Neither does the ABS curtail the recommended distance a driver should maintain between his vehicle and the one in front of him.