Ease Off The Anchors

Gentle, planned braking is something that all drivers should aspire to.

And if you don't think so, imagine being a passenger with somebody at the wheel who is doing nothing except "emergency stops". That kind of white knuckle ride may be extreme - but we all see examples daily of people who habitually leave it too late to brake for some reason (why else would there be all those skid marks on the tarmac?).

The key to good braking is anticipation. Don't rely on the brakes to get you out of trouble because you failed to plan for the hazard ahead in good time.

A good way to develop sensitive braking is to imagine that you want to bring the car to a stop without your passengers noticing.

By increasing pressure on the pedal smoothly you will "brush off" most of the speed -so at the right moment you will be able to bring your foot off the brake pedal without leaving the brakes biting to the bitter end. This is possible with a bit of practice: ease up on the brake pedal imperceptibly just as you are about to stop - the last metre or so. This allows you to roll gently to a stand-still without the vehicle’s nose dipping or a jerk.

Braking should be a single, sustained use of the pedal - with the maximum pressure applied during the middle phase.

This gentle approach gives a good indication to the person following you that you are slowing down. That in turn gives them more time to react and so reduces the chances of an inattentive driver "rear ending" your car.

As an indicator brake lights are a bit crude: when you think about it, all the other indicators are telling other road users what you intend to do but the brake lights just confirm that you are already doing it!

13 September 2005 Staff
 

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