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ABS brakes — ABS effectiveness and common myths

ABS brake effectiveness

STUDY: The Long-Term Effect of ABS in Passenger Cars and LTVs DOT HS 811 182 August 2009

A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has found that  antilock brakes (ABS) significantly reduce crashes where people get injured but have no net effect on crashes where people die. The study looked at 11 years worth of data, making the sample sizes much larger than in previous efforts.

“ABS by itself has close to zero overall effect on fatal crashes, but significantly reduces nonfatal crash involvements by an estimated 6 percent in cars and 8 percent in LTVs [light-truck vehicles such as SUVs and pickups]. 

Fatal run-off-road crashes do increase significantly with ABS, but now by only 9 percent, rather than the initial 28 percent [reported in an earlier study], as the public has learned how to use ABS correctly. That 9 percent increase is offset by reductions with ABS of other types of fatal crashes – and more importantly, it will be far outweighed by the great anticipated benefits of ESC [electronic stability control].”

ABS brake myths

• Myth — ABS brakes reduce stopping distances

FACT — ABS will only reduces stopping in some special road conditions (wet roads), but can actually increase stopping distances in others (snow).

FACT — Vehicles equipped with ABS must maintain the same distance behind vehicles they follow that they would have kept without ABS. They should not expect to stop more
quickly because they have ABS.

• MYTH — ABS brakes will help skidding when going around a curve

FACT — If a car skids in a curve without driver activated braking, ABS will not prevent or relieve the skid.

FACT — Drivers of cars equipped with ABS should not drive around curves, change lanes, or perform other steering maneuvers any faster or more aggressively than they would have
without ABS. They should not expect ABS to improve their control in these maneuvers

ABS brakes main advantage

The #1 advantage of ABS brakes is to prevent skidding and loss-of-control due to locked wheels and to allow a driver to steer the vehicle during hard braking.

ABS brakes help prevent crash involvement with other vehicles

On all roads, the reduction in crashes is a statistically significant 20 percent. On wet, snowy, or icy roads, where ABS is much more likely to activate, the reduction is a remarkable 36 percent.

ABS enables drivers to stop under control and avoid hitting vehicles in their own lane while not invading other lanes.

©, 2022 Rick Muscoplat

Posted on by Rick Muscoplat

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