There is a lot more to braking a car than simply pressing the brake pedal. An experienced driver will be able to read the road ahead and use good braking technique to smoothly slow or stop a car. However, a learner driver might find themselves often braking their car sharply or stopping with a sudden jolt. This poor braking technique will be uncomfortable for passengers, increase brake-wear, and could even result in a loss of car control.
This article will explain how to brake progressively, as this is the safest and smoothest technique for road driving.
What is Progressive Braking?
Progressive braking is a method of using variable brake force to slow the car with a light start to the braking then an increase of braking force to slow the car before finishing the braking lightly.
Using this technique instead of braking with a constant force will have many benefits, including giving increased warning to other drivers, reduced brake and tyre wear, and also reduce the chance of losing control of the car. Passengers will even appreciate it as the car will be much smoother and more comfortable to ride in.
Progressive braking doesn’t mean that we always brake slowly. It means we separate the braking process into three stages and vary the braking force throughout.
How to brake progressively
In this example, we are driving towards a roundabout and we need to slow down to a safe approach speed. We start by braking gently until we can just feel the brake starting to work, then firm up the braking force. This is where we actually slow the car down before feathering off the brake smoothly as we approached the junction. We should complete all our braking before we start steering, as a car is much more likely to skid if it is braked and steered at the same time.
In a scenario where we need to brake downhill for a T-junction: The gentle start to braking gives following traffic, time to react before we start braking firmly, and then we feather off the brake smoothly before turning left onto the new road.
Even though safety systems like stability and traction control are fitted to most modern cars, driving smoothly like this will help the tyres grip the road better and reduce the chance of an accident.
Braking to a stop
Next, let’s look at how to brake the car precisely to a stop, but without any sudden jolts at the end. The key to achieving this is to brake normally until the car is down to about walking pace, and then lift the brake pedal a little to feather the brake force. This will allow the car to glide to a stop without that sudden jolt.
Braking from high speed
In a situation where you are about to leave a dual carriageway and need to reduce speed quickly on the exit slip road: start by feeling the brakes start to work, then increase the braking force until the car is quickly slowing down. During this phase, we can adjust the brake force so that even quite hard braking can be done smoothly and under full control. Then as we approached the give way line, we feather the brake force for a smooth stop
- FEEL for the brake pedal, gently
- FIRMLY brake to slow the car down
- FEATHER off the brakes smoothly.
video from Advance Driving School