How to improve your ingenie braking feedback
Sometimes there are situations that take us by surprise and cause us to brake suddenly - people, animals and cars do the craziest things! - but it should be a rare event.
Having to brake hard a lot means there's probably an issue with how you're identifying and reacting to hazards.
If you're not doing as well as you'd like in your ingenie braking feedback, these tips will help you make sure you're observing, planning and making good decisions so your braking improves.
Why aren't I getting good braking messages?
Lack of observation and planning
- If your eyes aren't constantly scanning, nor is your brain, so you'll miss potential hazards
- Not observing properly means you can't plan what you'll do if a potential hazard develops into a situation that will affect you
Not giving yourself enough time to prepare for upcoming situations
- If you wouldn’t be able to avoid a sudden hazard quickly and safely, you’re driving too fast
- More speed = more commitment to the direction you’re going in
When you're coming up to traffic lights, slow down in case they change - this avoids harsh braking.
My brakes aren’t very responsive, what can I do?
Adjust your driving to your brakes
- You know they’re not very responsive - you need to compensate by applying the brakes earlier
Get your brakes checked
- It's dangerous to drive with faulty brakes - get them checked at a garage just in case
How can I avoid harsh braking?
Stay a safe distance from the car in front and behind
- If you are too close to other cars, you can’t allow for them suddenly braking
- You can’t see enough of the road ahead or behind if you’re too close
- You also can’t prepare for upcoming situations that may cause other cars to brake
- When you're in slow moving traffic, remember that you need to be able to see tyres and tarmac in front of you, so you have enough reaction time if the car ahead brakes suddenly
Keep your eyes scanning ahead not just on the car in front, so you can prepare
- If 1 is the bonnet and 10 is the end of road, where do you focus? Aim for 10!
- Often an event is occurring 3-4 cars ahead
- Brake lights further ahead could mean:
- Road works
- Pedestrian crossing
Slow down gradually
- If you’re scanning ahead, you’ll see a junction or roundabout coming up
- Decrease acceleration - this takes away the car’s POWER
- This will give you plenty of time to slow naturally, without braking harshly:
- Start braking gently
- Brake more firmly to get rid of most of your speed
- Make sure you're in second gear (this will help you slow down too)
- As you reach the junction or crossing, press the brake down all the way to come to a complete stop if you need to
Prepare for potential hazards
- A potential hazard (could happen) is easier to deal with than a developing hazard (is happening)
- If you spot something that COULD turn into a hazard, ease off on the accelerator to lower your car’s power and slow down
- The potential hazard may resolve itself before you get to it, and you won’t have had to brake harshly
- Don't just observe cars - there are lots of clues for what a driver is going to do next, like where they're looking and what direction their wheels are pointing
- On a road with parked cars, try to spot wheels turned in the direction of the road - that could mean someone's about to pull out
- Remember that if you can't see a driver, they can't see you - just because you've seen the nose of a car poking out of a drive doesn't mean the driver's seen you and is going to stop
Think about the 4 S’s
- Anything that has the potential to make you Stop, Slow down, Swerve or Swear should be reacted to earlier to avoid harsh braking
- When you can see this is going to happen, just take your foot off the gas pedal and put your foot over the brake pedal – by doing this early you’re:
- Stopping acceleration, so the power of the engine is naturally reduced and the force needed to then slow down or stop the car is far less
- Saving yourself some reaction time by already having your foot over the brake. You’ll then have more time to assess the risk and avoid harsh braking.