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21 Feb 2002

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Braking and stopping!
Driving Part 2.

It is an important part of driving, stopping! Its significance is overlooked by all drivers at some point, seeing many of us tailgating, and I too, must put my hands up to it on occasions. Part of the Advanced course covers checking that your brakes are working properly, and also looks at the words, “STOPPING DISTANCE”, which most cease to dwell on after passing their test. When driving, it is very easy to forget and to come too close to the car in front. One way of checking your distance is by saying, “Only a fool breaks the two second rule.” You start to say it as the vehicle in front passes a fixed object and stop when you start to pass it. If you finish the sentence after you have passed the object you picked, then you have to slow down and give yourself more stopping room. It is only a guide as this rule only works in ideal driving conditions and with Britain’s weather, you need to remember that your car takes longer to stop in wet and icy conditions! If it is wet, double the phrase and remember the information below is only a guide. Also check your brake lights are working before setting off. So many people drive with only one, and sometimes not even one, working! This may cause a bad accident, as, with faulty indication, how do people know you are going to stop? With imported American cars, remember the brake lights are also the indicator lights, as we have several such cars on the roads in Southport! The next thing to be aware of are the potential risks when overtaking parked vehicles. Ensure that you are travelling at a slow enough speed, without causing a hazard to people behind you, that you can brake efficiently and quickly if someone or something happens to emerge between the cars and come out in front of you. Also check to see if your brakes are working by doing a rolling brake test. If you have a clear road and no one behind you, dab your brakes and see if they come on OK. Do you get a horrible squeal or a judder, or are they smooth when applied? Remember if you have ABS brakes, DO NOT DAB BRAKE when going to stop as it could make the brakes think they are locking up and hamper their ability to function. In normal braking conditions, using normal brakes it is advised to dab brake before applying your brakes fully as this alerts the following driver to your intentions, but remember that you should use a lot of judgement as to what technique is required. Think 3 steps ahead if not more! Remember, the road is only as safe as the worst driver on it allows, so drive alertly. Also your brakes might be good, but the person in front might brake a lot quicker than you or hit an obstruction, and without warning!! So, no matter what brakes you have, if you are too close…*****! 
More driving to come and hopefully we are going to bring you a video to help you pick up ideas as to how you should be driving and how not to. 

I.A.M. can be found on their web page at www.iam.org.uk and on Sefton's page at www.iam.org.uk/groups/sefton.

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This article has been constructed by Patrick Trollope with help from the Institute of Advanced Motorists.   We would advise every one should do the Advance Course!