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Safe Driving Tips – Emergency Stops

Most drivers have not practised emergency stops. When we do our driver’s test, we are required (or should be) to do an emergency stop during the yard test at about 40kph. Yet when we pass the driver’s test, we are entitled to drive our vehicles at three times that limit! You would not fly with a pilot who knows how to take off but not how to land, would you!! But we share the road with driver’s who do not know how to “land” their cars. We call them crashes. Insurance claim forms often state, “the car went out of control” or “the vehicle would not stop in time”. Imagine a pilot saying, “The plane would not land”.

I know this sounds outrageous, but what is the difference, who is in control of the vehicle? If we are going to travel at 120kph or any speed for that matter, practise emergency stops from that speed. Here are some tips:

  • Firstly, check or find out if the vehicle has ABS anti lock brakes first. If ABS is fitted, there will be an orange light on the dashboard saying ABS when the ignition is on before you start the engine. Our advice here is to attend a good skidpan training session to understand the difference between ABS and non-ABS braking because the application of the brake pedal is different. Without ABS a driver would have to learn how to ‘cadence’ brake which is a fairly quick, hard, rhythmic pumping action on the brake pedal.
  • The ideal place to test braking distances would be in the safe environment of a racing track or some other private, closed off road. Should this not be possible, choose a deserted roadway that is flat with no solid objects to hit should something go wrong.
  • Remember to check your rear-view mirror before slamming on the brakes.
  • If you don’t have ABS brakes and you lock the brakes, the vehicle will skid forwards out of control because the steering does not work when the wheels are locked. Additionally, most roads are cambered for water drainage so the vehicle will more than likely not skid straight ahead but to the side of the road. When the left wheels hit the gravel on the verge of the road, the vehicle will slew sideways and you stand a good chance of rolling the vehicle in the process. Your tyres will also have “flat spots” burned into them.

So, as you can see from the above, emergency braking is quite complex. Our suggestion is to do the abovementioned skidpan training session or do not drive at speeds above 40kph!!!

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