One of the most basic, and therefore important, driving skills is how to brake safely. The trick to learning how to brake safely in all situations is to learn the proper way of doing this task in when in the middle of an emergency. Luckily the method for braking properly in an emergency is a rather simple one. All you need to do is follow the guidelines listed below, and you will have the basics. When you understand the basics, go out to an empty mall parking lot some Sunday morning and get in a bunch of practice. Within an hour or two, it should be come like second nature.
- Know your system. The first step in braking safely takes place before you even get into the vehicle. You need to learn what type of brake system you have, since the two types that are commonly used are completely different from one another. The first is your standard brakes system, and the second is the Anti-lock Brake System (or ABS) that is becoming more and more common. The ABS is pretty much designed to help prevent locking up on you when you slam on the pedal, while the standard system requires a little more effort on your part to avoid that problem.
- Don't panic. If you find yourself in a situation where you need to brake quickly it does absolutely no good to panic. When you panic, you will be more likely to end up making a mistake that can be costly in both money and injuries. By practicing your braking procedures before hand, you will know how to "instinctively" react so that you can take the thinking out of the picture.
- Proper hand position. When you begin to brake, make sure that your hands are in the proper 10:00 and 2:00 position on the steering wheel. This will allow you to have better control of the wheel, and thus the car, when you are attempting stop it from moving.
- Slow down first. Before you really push down on the brake pedal you need to start slowing the car as much as possible. The easiest way that this is done is by simply removing your foot from the gas pedal.
- Straight lines are best. When trying to brake your car, you want to make sure that the wheels are as straight as possible. Not only will this help prevent you from potentially skidding, it will help any other possible accidents from happening as well, such as a rollover.
- Pump, don't press. If you have a standard brake system then it is vitally important that you pump on the brakes instead of stomping on them and holding your foot there. The reason for this is that older brakes systems have a tendency to lock up (and thereby stop working) if you simply stomp on the pedal. By pumping the pedal, you are preventing that from happening, while also ensuring that you are stopping as quickly as possible. If you have the ABS type of brakes, then this is already happening for you, which is why you will feel the pedal "pulsing" underneath your foot.
- Turn into the skid. In the event that you do start to skid, turn the wheel into the direction that you are skidding. By turning into the skid, you can help bring your car under control a little bit better. You may need to repeat this a few times in each direction to truly get the car under control, but it will only happen if you turn into the skid.
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