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Florida Driver Handbook: Anti-Locking Brake System (ABS)

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Florida Driver Handbook: Anti-Locking Brake System (ABS)

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Table of Contents

7. Vehicle Equipment

Anti-lock brakes prevent skidding and allow drivers to steer during an emergency braking situation. ABS can help improve vehicle stability (avoiding spinouts), steering ability (directing the car where the driver wants it to go) and stopping capability (distance needed to stop the vehicle).

Many drivers learned the correct way to stop in an emergency situation where traction is lost and the vehicle slides is by pumping the brakes. While this is correct with conventional brakes, with ABS it is different. Drivers with ABS need to press down hard on the brake pedal, hold it and steer out of danger. In an emergency situation, the ABS automatically pumps the brakes at a faster rate than the driver could. Drivers should be aware that removing steady pressure from the brake pedal or pumping the brakes will disengage or "turn off" the ABS.

One of the most important benefits of ABS is that the driver can steer the vehicle away from hazards while braking. Drivers should not turn the steering wheel hard or jerk the vehicle in one direction. Control of the vehicle can be maintained by steering where the driver wants to go. Drivers need to check that traffic is clear when deciding where to steer and always remember to steer back into the original lane as soon as the hazard is cleared.

Vehicles can be equipped with two different types of ABS:

  • Four-wheel on passenger cars and some light trucks. Always remember to brake hard and steer. It is important to keep firm and constant pressure on the brake pedal while stopping.
  • Rear-wheel-only on some light trucks. It prevents the rear wheels from locking up so that the back end of the vehicle does not skid sideways. The front wheels can still lock up and the driver will lose steering control if this happens. In this situation, the driver should let up on the brake pedal with just enough pressure to allow the front wheel to start rolling again to regain control. When the driver feels that he has regained steering control, the brake pedal should again be firmly engaged.

Drivers can determine whether their cars have ABS by looking for a lighted ABS symbol on the dashboard right after starting the engine, checking the owner's manual or asking the dealer.