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Antilock-breaking (ABS) vs Stabilty Control (ESP) vs Traction Control Video

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Nice video(s) showing how the various car safety features work to solve different problems (Antilock-breaking (ABS) vs Stabilty Control (ESP) vs Traction Control):

Fast forward to 4 minutes in to see the tests.

Wow. Pretty neat!

Stoic Joker:
While all of these are good systems, it should be mentioned that in the interest of safety they shouldn't be depended on. Because as with all things mechanical, there is always the potential for them to malfunction. I've ripped into salesman on several occasions when they started telling people that all you have to do is clamp down on the breaks and let the ABS handle everything ... Which IMO is a great way to get somebody killed by teaching them bad habits.

When ABS kicks in you can feel the system pulsing. That pulsing is the system's way of telling you that you need to back off the brakes a bit to maintain traction (and steering control). So as a teaching aid they're brilliant...but as a policy they encourage bad driving habits that could easily get one killed. Because if they happen to malfunction when you really need them, it's best to have proper braking technique to fall back on.

Electronic Stability Control I haven't played with, but I would apply the same caution to its usage as well. If you watch the video carefully you will notice that in the first non-ESC run he was jerking the wheel much harder than is prudent on hard and dry asphalt...let alone on ice. Now I'm assuming it was mainly for dramatic effect to help demonstrate the capabilities of the system. But having spent a good deal of time in various vehicles at speed I can assure you that sudden jerky control input is an absolute no-no. Everything should be done smoothly, and in harmony with vehicle attitude ... Assuming of course your intent is to keep it on the wheels.. :D

Traction Control? I love it on my wife's new Dodge Charger. Launching it hard in the rain is almost boringly easy. But I did disable it on my bike because I occasionally need/like/want it to slide a bit ... Just for the entertainment value.

When ABS kicks in you can feel the system pulsing. That pulsing is the system's way of telling you that you need to back off the brakes a bit to maintain traction
--- End quote ---

This is the only part of your post I would take issue with.

I am no expert, but the experts seem to be pretty consistent in saying that if you have ABS, and you feel it kick in during a hard/emergency breaking scenario, you should *NOT* ease up on the breaks or "tap" the breaks as you were taught in the non-abs days.

In such emergency breaking, apply consistent pressure and let the ABS do it's job.

Perhaps a better way to say what you were trying to get at is that ABS should only be kicking in during "emergency" breaking; if you are using your breaks in a way that is triggering ABS, and it's not an emergency -- then you are driving badly -- and you should take it as a signal that you need to change your everyday breaking habits.

Stoic Joker:
Tap/pulse (for snow driving) no, then you're just fighting the system for a rhythm ... But if it's rattling like hell you're not going to lose any breaking by backing off it a touch, and it'll help with steering input.

I've heard experts go both ways on this. Generally speaking however only the beginner courses recommend keeping it pinned. Advanced driving courses...not so much. ;) My own experience - having spent a good bit of time on the ragged edge - as well has shown that ABS is not infallible. They are great systems - and having ABS was a big selling point for my current ride - but they are not magical. And as we both know even with the best intended input computers can sometimes get it wrong.


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