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Winter braking tips

The ability to stop promptly on ice and snow can be increased by following these helpful tips.

Stopping distances:  

In winter driving conditions, it takes all vehicles longer to stop on snow-covered roads.

Winter tires that are in good condition can shorten braking distances by as much as 25 per cent.

Prepare to brake in advance and leave more distance than normal between vehicles.

Threshold braking – Threshold braking should bring vehicles to a reasonably quick controlled stop even in slippery conditions. Brake as hard as possible without locking up or skidding the wheels. Press down on the brake pedal, trying to get as much braking power as possible. Then, if there is any feeling of the wheels locking up, release the brake pressure slightly and re-apply. Don’t pump the brakes. Continue braking this way until the vehicle has come to a complete stop. Some vehicles have anti-lock brake systems that give you a maximum threshold stop automatically.

For vehicles with an anti-lock braking system, practice emergency braking to understand how the vehicle will react. It is a good idea to practice doing this under controlled conditions with a qualified driving instructor.

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Anti-lock braking systems (ABS) are designed to sense the speed of the wheels on a vehicle. An abnormal drop in wheel speed, which indicates potential wheel lock, causes the brake force to be reduced to that wheel. This is how the anti-lock braking system prevents tire skid and the accompanying loss of steering control. This improves vehicle safety during heavy brake use or when braking with poor traction.

Although anti-lock braking systems help to prevent wheel lock, don’t expect the stopping distance for vehicles to be shortened.

With anti-lock brakes, drivers can continue to steer while in a full-on hard braking event. Many drivers forget this and it’s a good idea to practise in a deserted location like a parking lot to get a feel for the vehicle’s characteristics when the ABS comes on.

Electronic Stability Control (ESC) helps drivers avoid crashes. ESC sensors compare the direction the vehicle is going. When they are not the same, and the vehicle begins to skid, ESC applies the brakes to one or more wheels, or reduces engine power, or both, to help keep the vehicle under control. The only way to get ESC is to buy a new or used vehicle that is already equipped with it. 

For the latest weather and road updates on the go use Global’s Skytracker and Traffic apps.

Return to Winter driving safety tips 

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