Braking

Braking action involves perception time and reaction time.

First, you have to decide to push on the brake pedal. That is perception time. Then you have to bring up your foot and do it. That is reaction time.

Average reaction time is about three-fourths of a second. But that is only an average. It might be less with one driver and as long as two or three seconds or more with another. Age, physical condition, alertness, coordination, and eyesight all play a part.

So do alcohol, drugs, and frustration. But even in three-fourths of a second, a vehicle moving at 60 mph (100 km/h) travels 66 feet (20 m).

That could be a lot of distance in an emergency, so keeping enough space between your vehicle and others is important.

And, of course, actual stopping distances vary greatly with the surface of the road, whether it is pavement or gravel; the condition of the road, whether it is wet, dry, or icy; tire tread; the condition of the brakes; the weight of the vehicle; and the amount of brake force applied.

Avoid needless heavy braking. Some people drive in spurts — heavy acceleration followed by heavy braking — rather than keeping pace with traffic. This is a mistake. The brakes may not have time to cool between hard stops. The brakes will wear out much faster if you do a lot of heavy braking. If you keep pace with the traffic and allow realistic following distances, you will eliminate a lot of unnecessary braking. That means better braking and longer brake life.

If your vehicle’s engine ever stops while you are driving, brake normally but do not pump the brakes. If you do, the pedal may get harder to push down. If the engine stops, you will still have some power brake assist. But you will use it when you brake. Once the power assist is used up, it may take longer to stop and the brake pedal will be harder to push.

Adding non-GM accessories can affect your vehicle’s performance.

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