Do you know the most important factors which help drivers to stop quickly and safely? Would it surprise you to know that it’s a combination of brakes, tyres, and shock absorbers?
Don’t underestimate the importance of your tyres in the safe braking equation. They are an important element to ensure you brake swiftly and within an acceptable braking distance. Depending on the quality, type, and condition of your tyres, braking will be affected. The lower the tread depth on your tyres, the less effective braking will be, so check the tread depth of your tyres regularly. Tyres with minimal tread increase your susceptibility to skidding if you have to brake heavily.
The quality and type of tyre usually affects your braking power. Generally, higher performance tyres will have better adhesion compounds. This means they remain in contact with the road surface, skid less readily, and won’t break loose as easily under heavy braking.
Of course, the condition of your brakes is a huge influence on your ability to maintain an acceptable braking distance. Brakes must be checked regularly for leaky brake lines, worn brake drums, worn-out brake pads, and rotors. You must ensure that your brakes are up to standard so you and other road users can remain as safe as possible.
Suspension and shock absorbers
Worn shock absorbers can add as much as 2.6m to your emergency braking distance when driving at just 50km. If you are driving faster and have to brake quickly, this distance will be increased.
Like other moving parts on your car, shock absorbers will wear out over time. If your shock absorbers are in poor condition then your effective braking ability will be compromised. Weight transfer relates to braking, so worn shock absorbers and springs encourage weight to move to the front of your vehicle when hard braking is required.
If you don’t have your shock absorbers checked every 20,000 km then remember to have them checked at your next service.
Road conditions do affect your ability to brake within an acceptable distance. Fresh asphalt offers the best option for adhesion and effective braking whilst dirt and gravel increase the braking distance due to their lack of good traction.
Weather conditions must always be considered when driving. In Australia, some roads may get very hot during extreme summer weather conditions. Conversely, we also have wet, icy, and snowy roads in some areas. Seasonal changes must also be considered when driving safely, braking effectively, and being a considerate road user.
How much experience you have behind the wheel and on the road has an impact on your ability to brake quickly and safely. Advanced driver courses are available to help you drive more safely and keep safer on the road.
The braking system
The braking system installed in your car also affects braking. Modern ABS (anti-lock braking system) and AEB (autonomous emergency braking) should be considered when calculating a safe braking distance. Older cars may not have such systems, so drive accordingly.