Sign In  |  Register  |  About San Anselmo  |  Contact Us

San Anselmo, CA
September 01, 2020 1:33pm
7-Day Forecast | Traffic
  • Search Hotels in San Anselmo

  • ROOMS:

How To Stop Safely in an Emergency

How To Stop Safely in an EmergencyPhoto from Unsplash

Originally Posted On:


How To Stop Safely in an Emergency

In a perfect driving world, we can easily respond to anything that comes into our path with either a smooth lane change or a gentle stop. However, there may be times when an emergency stop may be required in order to avoid hitting something on the road, including other road users or large animals. There are different braking techniques you can use to help you maintain control of your vehicle while braking in an emergency situation.

There are essentially two techniques you can use to have a controlled stop in an emergency. The first is anti-lock braking and the second is threshold braking. Understanding how each one works can help you make that controlled emergency stop, but sometimes it depends on the vehicle you’re driving. An older technique used years ago was pumping the brakes. We’ll talk more about that later.

Anti-lock braking systems (ABS)

If you have a vehicle that is equipped with an anti-lock brake system (ABS) as all vehicles in Australia made after 2003 are legally required to have ABS, it will react a little differently in emergency braking situations than conventional braking does, such as stopping at a red light or a stop sign. Once you understand how it works, you should practice emergency braking in an empty parking lot or on a quiet street to better understand how your vehicle will react. To keep things safe, practice doing this emergency braking with a qualified driving instructor.

If you are unfamiliar with the feeling of ABS, you may be surprised by the pulsations from the brake pedal that you may hear and feel when you brake extremely hard. It would be to your advantage to ensure you know what to expect from the ABS so you will not be startled by the pulsation or become tempted to release the pedal during an emergency stop.

To break this down, ABS is designed to identify the speed of the wheels on a vehicle while you’re braking. A harsh drop in wheel speed could indicate a possible locking of the wheel. The ABS causes the force of braking to be reduced to that wheel, very quickly and very fast. In other words, if the onboard computer senses that a wheel is locking, it will release that wheel and keep it moving. This is really how ABS can prevent a wheel from skidding, along with any loss of steering control that accompanies this. The invention of ABS has improved vehicle safety during harsh braking or when braking with poor traction on the road.

Although ABS will help to prevent wheels from locking up, the stopping distance for your vehicle is not necessarily shortened. If the wheels locked, you could possibly slide across the road. This is because the friction of the tires on the pavement is causing the tires to become slick and reduce traction. Having the wheels rotate will allow the tires to grip the road better and stop you during an emergency stop.

One of the best advantages of ABS is that it allows you to brake and steer at the same time. Without ABS, if you hit your brakes hard and tried to steer around a problem, such as another vehicle or large animal, your vehicle may actually slide toward it instead. Having your wheels rotate means they can grip the road better, thus giving you the ability to avoid the problem if you can’t stop in time before hitting it.

Threshold braking

A different type of braking technique is referred to as threshold braking. It will bring you to a very quick stop in case of emergency, even in slippery conditions. This emergency braking technique is generally used in a vehicle that is not equipped with ABS or if the ABS was not working for any reason.

To use the maximum threshold braking, press hard on the brake pedal, applying as much braking force as possible without inducing a skid. This could be referred to roughly as medium-hard pressure on the brake pedal, then add more and more pressure until you come to a safe stop. If you feel any of the wheels begin to lock up, you should slightly release the brake pressure and then re-apply slightly more pressure. Continue using this braking technique until you have stopped the vehicle.

Previous techniques

Older techniques drivers would use would be pumping the brakes. Yes, that technique did stop the vehicle under control, but it would take a much longer time for that to happen. The reason for that was that each time you lifted your foot from the brake pedal while in the pumping action, you were not slowing down very much at all. Although our parents and grandparents may have been taught that when they learned to drive, updated techniques seem to work much better.

One of the things to keep in mind is that ABS is like pumping the brakes, just much faster. The ABS will pump the brakes at roughly 20 times a second. That’s much faster than any person can do on their own. That’s part of the advantages of modern technology.

Another technique that was mentioned here a few times is locking your wheels. That essentially forces inertia to control your vehicle. You have no steering ability and you’re just waiting for the speed of your vehicle to stop on its own. It would be similar to running on a slippery surface such as ice and then sliding with your shoes on. You’ll stop when your speed gets reduced enough. You have no control over your actions.


Vehicles equipped with ABS will be able to provide controlled braking on any surface, including slippery surfaces automatically. However, in snowy conditions, the sensor which activates the ABS may get wet and the ABS will not work. A blown fuse may also cause the ABS not to work. These are reasons why we should all know how to use the ABS and threshold braking techniques correctly. That knowledge will give us a piece of mind if and when an emergency stop is needed.

Data & News supplied by
Stock quotes supplied by Barchart
Quotes delayed at least 20 minutes.
By accessing this page, you agree to the following
Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions.
Copyright © 2010-2020 & California Media Partners, LLC. All rights reserved.