Do it Yourself Antilock Brakes - your own two fast feet
Your own two feet can be "do it yourself antilock brakes" if needs be. That's what I did one day on my way to college when the roads were frozen over.
It was a nerve wracking experience, but I'm glad I went through it because it proved what I had thought all along - I could create my own antilock brakes using just my feet.
I'll explain how it's done, and I'll leave it to you to perfect your own technique. It can come in handy in an emergency.
If your car doesn't have antilock brakes, this is a good technique to employ, and if your antilock brakes ever fail, you'll be glad you know how to imitate their action.
The whole idea of antilock brakes is to allow drivers to mash on the brakes in an emergency and still control the vehicle. We get so accustomed to the brakes stopping the vehicle when we apply them that pushing down on the brake pedal becomes all we know how to do, and we keep doing it, even when applying the brakes isn't helping at all.
Once I was in a car driven by a friend and he tried to stop on ice. As the car started to slide sideways, I told him to pump the brakes, which he did to no avail. I urged him to pump them as fast as he could. I even demonstrated on the dashboard how fast he should be doing it.
Instead, he fell back on what he knew and simply mashed down the brakes which encouraged the station wagon we were riding in to slide down the lane at an angle. I thought for certain that we were going to sideswipe cars in the lanes on either side of us. How we didn't hit one of those cars is beyond me, but we came to a stop just as one of the front wheels entered the intersection where the passing cars had melted the ice off the road.
If my friend had been familiar with "do it yourself antilock brakes," then we probably could have controlled the skid of the station wagon.
Here is how you can be your own "do it yourself antilock brakes" and stay out of a skid.
- Shift into neutral so no additional input is given to the drive wheels. This also allows you to roll instead of slide.
- Using both feet in succession, make shallow punches on the brake pedal just as fast as you can. The faster the better.
- Use short punchy strokes that end the instant you can feel that you've encountered resistance in the brake pedal as it engages the hydraulic system that actuates the brakes. That means perhaps you'll be depressing the pedal only an inch or two.
- Be certain to punch the brake pedal and not push it. The idea is to cause the brakes to grab momentarily and then allow them to release and then grab again in the next instant. Each grab and release should last only a fraction of a second.
Using this technique, you should be able to cause the brakes to grab lightly about half of the time to help slow down the car, while letting the wheels rotate about half of the time to promote tracking so the car stays traveling in a controlled manner.
It might take some practice, but it can be done because I've done it several times in emergency situations. You might be surprised at how fast you can alternate light punches on the brake pedal when the alternative is drifting into the car in front of you.
Having factory installed antilock brakes is a great option for your car, but when it's not available or you're driving an older car, you can always employ "do it yourself antilock brakes" and maintain much better control than simply mashing on the brakes or slowly pumping them.
Done with Do it Yourself Antilock Brakes, take me back to Safe Driving