The Statue of Liberty is not the only world renowned object designed by the French. And what a gift she was! I can’t imagine how many people it took to gift wrap old Large Marge. There’s also French bread, French fries, French toast (which is just battered French bread, really) and how can we forget the French maid. Whoa…hit the brakes! Or, as I’ve heard a Frenchman say when passing a beautiful woman on the street, “Ah, what curves…and me with no brakes.” The French are creepy that way.
Anti-lock braking systems, also known as ABS, were also designed by the French for aircraft around 1929. Before they put anti-lock braking systems in cars, if the road was slick and you slammed on your brakes, your wheels would lock up and you would skid out of control. So drivers would pump their brakes to create traction in a skid. Anti-lock braking systems pump the brakes for you. That’s what that vibrating and hammering feeling is in the brakes where it feels like the brake is slipping. Now, when you apply your brakes, rather than locking up, they still rotate, but they rotate at intervals. Because the brake is gripping the wheel at intervals, i.e. it is pumping the brake. So, when the road is slick, you no longer need to pump the brake. Rather, you only need to apply steady pressure and hold down the brake, while it gives you a nice, relaxing foot massage.
So, there is no need to pump the brakes anymore. In a car with ABS, the wheels should never lock in the first place, so pumping the brakes will just make you take longer to stop. They prevent wheels from locking up and provide the shortest stopping distance on slippery surfaces. So, all-in-all, better traction, better stopping distance and better steering control “while” you’re braking are the main attributes to ABS.
So, while the Statue of Liberty, French bread, French fries and French toast are all very important contributions to society as well as history, and the French maid is arguably the most noted costume at any party, the Anti-lock braking system is their greatest contribution of them all.
Until next week…
Writer / Comedienne / Artist
Anti-Lock Braking Systems – Comedy Defensive Driving