One sad reality we have to face, whether we like it or not, is that a number of drivers don't know how to properly use their brakes. It's alarming, knowing that some accidents are caused when drivers miscalculate their braking distance – especially at high speed. To avoid such mishaps, you need to take note of knowing how to properly brake, and when exactly to press your brake pedal.
Although technological advancements grant us state-of-the-art assistive features, such as Advance Emergency Braking System (AEBS), nothing will beat a skilled and knowledgeable driver. So, without further ado, here are the things you need to know for you to brake like a pro.
There's no need for abrupt braking.
The need to brake sharply means lack of attention to the road. If you find yourself having to floor the pedal to avoid hitting the car in front of you, it's probably because you're driving too close or too fast. With this said, you need to be mindful of the gap between you and the car in front of you.
Based on studies, a driver would need roughly one and a half seconds to react in desperate situations. You should also know that a modern car with optimum braking system and tires would require at least seven meters per second squared (7 m/s2). Aside from speed and distance needed, the road condition pays an important role on your brakes' effectivity. So, defensive driving is probably your best bet in avoiding accidents.
Brake calmly and apply gradual pressure on the pedal.
Some people tend to forget how to properly step on the brakes that they unconsciously (and sometimes not) put hard pressure on the pedals. But, this habit poses a threat to their safety, as well as their passengers and the other cars around them. To brake smoothly, always remember that you need to apply gentle pressure, increasing it to completely stop the vehicle.
Applying hard pressures on the brake is irritating, especially to your passengers as it will toss your passengers forward. Not only that, you may also end up ruining your rear end, as there is a possibility that the driver behind you has poor reflexes to react on-time.
Don't smash your brake pedals on curves.
A strict rule on braking is don't brake hard on curves. In braking, you need to have 100% control of your car, or else, you'll have a high chance of skidding your vehicle. You don't want this to happen on curves with cliff sides as you'll end up in the mortuary. Yup, results will be harsh but you have to pay the consequences if you don't discipline yourself.
With that said, driving with the right speed and not overtaking on or when approaching a curve is the only way you can count on to avoid such unfortunate events. Focus on the road and pay close attention to the vehicles around you.
We recommend braking with your right foot only.
Whether you're driving a manual or an automatic vehicle, know that the left foot is only designated to the clutch pedal. If you're in an automatic car, your left foot remains on the foot rest, a.k.a. the dead pedal. It's that piece of black elevated non-movable plastic or metal step on the left-most part.
Although it isn't illegal to use your left foot, doing so might result to unsmooth braking – which is kind of uncool. Remember tip number two? Brake calmly and gently. Also, there's a big chance for a confusion to happen after switching automatic to manual cars, as you might mistake the brake pedal as the clutch and vice versa.
Flooring the brake pedal would result to skidding.
Another reason why you must avoid smashing on the brake pedals is skidding. Sudden braking could cause the wheels to lock, which then results to skidding. Skidding happens when you lose control of your car then it slides on the road. There is a higher risk of skidding on a wet road but that does not mean it can't happen on a dry road.
If, in case, you skid out of an inevitable sudden braking, don't press on the pedal too hard. Instead, don't panic and release your foot from the brake pedal and steer towards your skidding direction. Doing this will earn you control than fighting it by braking even longer.
Water affects your braking system, obviously.
Wet roads are slippery, as there would be less friction between your tires and the road. This is why driving fast in the rain is dangerous and is not recommended to all drivers, both skilled or learning ones. Another thing that water can do is to reduce effectivity of your brakes. Flooded areas will result to wet brake pads, which would increase your stopping distance, specifically at faster speed.
After driving through a flooded section of the road, pump your brakes gently and repeatedly at slow speed once you got out of it. Doing this would dry up your brake pads so you could use them more effectively when needed.
FYI, speed increases your braking distance.
It's no secret that a faster vehicle will require extra distance to attain a complete stop. A number of factors aside from speed contributes to this, such as the friction between the tires and the road, inclination, and the air drag of the vehicle. We don't have to go full-mathematician to hand out equations on this to explain it clearly. Rather, here's a guideline of stopping distances given the speed, reaction distance, and road conditions.