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Anti-lock braking systems: keeping drivers safe on the road

On Behalf of | Apr 14, 2020 | Consumer Protection |

New vehicles come with a variety of features to ensure convenience and comfort for drivers. However, the most critical elements are designed with safety at the forefront. Without proper safety features, drivers are at risk for more injuries and accidents in the long term.

One of the most prominent safety features is the anti-lock brake system. Almost all new cars and motorcycles have the system, but few drivers understand how or why the feature keeps them safe on the road.

Don’t worry about pumping the brakes

The primary purpose of abs systems is to prevent the wheels from locking up during braking while maintaining traction on the street surface. It’s an essential feature in the winter or summer due to the slick nature of heavy snow and rain.

ABS systems rely on four components to ensure drivers’ safety:

  1. Speed sensors – The sensors are located on each wheel and provide information to the system about the tires’ traction.
  2. Valves – The ABS controls each brake with a valve in the brake line. The valves will either release pressure from the brake, block the line from the master cylinder or pass pressure from the master cylinder in the brake.
  3. Pump – When the valve releases pressure from the brake, the pump brings the pressure back to the brake line.
  4. Controller – The controller acts as the computer in the car and controls the valve and watches the sensors on the tires.

All the components have to work together for the ABS system to function correctly; if one aspect of the system does not work, it leads to significant problems in the overall safety feature.

One of the largest problems with ABS systems is drivers’ tendency to pump the brakes while driving in slippery conditions. Pumping the brakes seems like the natural move for drivers, but it makes it more challenging to come to a complete stop with an ABS system.

There’s also an issue with releasing the brakes when drivers feel the system pulse. They react to the pulsing by releasing the brake and steering off into the wrong direction. In reality, it’s normal for the system to pulse while it brings the vehicle to a stop.

Despite these issues, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration analyzed the effects of ABS systems and found benefits for nonfatal crashes. It significantly decreases injuries among drivers and passengers in nonfatal accidents.

Because the ABS system involves multiple components, there can be malfunctions in the operation of the system.  Dealerships and manufacturers must take seriously reports about problems with ABS systems.  If your vehicle has an issue with the ABS system, take your vehicle in right away to your dealership and get documentation of the service visit.  If that does not resolve the issue, get to the dealership again and also contact the manufacturer.

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