William E. Van Tassel: At AAA, we are often surprised at the amount of misinformation the drivers are exposed to, and today, we'd like to put a few of those common misperceptions to rest.
Let's start with your anti-lock brakes. In an emergency stopping situation to get the most out of your brakes, all you have to do is stop down on the pedal and keep pushing. Don't lift off the pedal as that will reduce the system's effectiveness.
You may feel the pedal pulsing under your foot, this is normal and the sign that the anti-lock function is working properly.
Also, it's important to know that anti-lock brakes do not result in shorter stopping distances. That's a common misperception.
Well, what if you need to make a sudden stop on dry pavement? Motorists driving cars without anti-lock brakes may have been taught to pump the brakes in this situation.
This is wrong; instead drivers without anti-lock brakes should firmly squeeze the brake pedal until just before the tires lock up, a technique known as threshold braking.
Another source of confusion is what to do when a tire blows out. Many drivers will either firmly applying the brakes as a safe way to reduce speed. In fact, drivers should instead ease their foot from the gas pedal and stay off the brake.
Braking can unbalance the car's suspension, which could result in a dangerous spin out. Once the car coasts down to 20 miles an hour or so, the brakes can then be gently applied to bring vehicle to a stop.
Finally, what if you are driving and the rear view vehicle begins to skimp. Most people will apply the brakes, but that can actually cause you to lose even more rear tire traction. Stay off the brakes and continue to look and steer where you want to go.
By learning to avoid these common mistakes, you'll be a safer driver in no time.