A Brief History of Anti-Lock Braking Systems

The Statue of Liberty is not the only world renowned object designed by the French.

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 on 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.


How Do Anti-Lock Brakes Work?

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 on slippery surfaces. So, all-in-all, better traction and better steering control are the main attributes to ABS.  An ABS does not necessarily shorten your stopping distance, but does allow you to keep control of your steering allowing you to have better control over your vehicle.

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.


How To Apply Anti-Lock Brakes

  • Press and hold the brake, you will feel the petal vibrating, don’t pump the brakes, just steer your car to safety.
  • Keep your tires filled with the proper air pressure and make sure you have adequate tread.
  • Allow enough space to stop.  Use the 3 second rule and if there are bad conditions increase the seconds appropriately.