Compared to modern electronic sensors, we humans have pretty slow reaction times. The purpose of brake assist and its related technologies is to help us stop our vehicles sooner and faster. Those critical seconds — usually fractions of a second — can mean the difference between a crash and a close call.
So, is brake assist a truly worthwhile safety feature, or is it merely a clever marketing gimmick designed to sell more cars and pump up sticker prices? Numerous studies show that brake assist is the real deal, with the potential to prevent thousands of fatal auto accidents each year.
The Reason for Brake Assist
In a word, brake assist is about safety. Simply put, research shows that most people are too wimpy with the brakes in an emergency. According to Mercedes-Benz, 99 percent of drivers either failed to apply full brake pressure, or applied brake pressure too late, in an emergency stopping situation. When Mercedes introduced the technology to the market in the late 1990s, the company said brake assist helped shorten stopping distance by 45 percent. Even skilled drivers benefited from stopping distances that were 10 percent shorter [source: Mercedes-Benz]. In practical terms, shorter stopping distances mean fewer accidents.
Providing Power for Panicked Stops
Let’s go through another brake assist-aided stop. This time, we’ll tackle it step by step. You’re traveling down a deserted country road on a moonless night, with the forest seemingly closing in on either side. Your high beams throw off barely enough light for you to comfortably drive the speed limit. Suddenly, a family of deer comes loping onto the pavement a few hundred feet ahead.
As your foot instinctively clamps down on the brake pedal, a sensor immediately knows, by the speed and pressure of your foot on the pedal, that this is an emergency. Within a fraction of a second, the brake assist system signals the brakes to direct maximum clamping power to the brake calipers. The pedal pulses as its anti-lock braking system (ABS) kicks in, working in concert with the brake assist. The vehicle remains under control as it decelerates and stops far short of the crossing deer. No animals are harmed – – and your insurance premium escapes equally unscathed.
How Much Safer Could We Be
How much safer might U.S. roads be if brake assist technology became mandatory? According to the U.S. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), more than 400,000 crashes occur every year in which the driver reacted — that is, he or she tried to stop or maneuver out of the way. These crashes result in about 3,000 deaths each year [source: United States Institute of Insurance Highway Safety]. There’s no precise way to tell how many of those crashes could have been avoided if the driver stopped sooner, but it appears that brake assist can reduce accidents when it works in tandem with other cutting-edge safety technologies.
There’s some evidence out there to support this as well: The IIHS “Future Vehicles” report studied five relatively new car safety features, including brake assist, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, blind spot detection and adaptive headlights. If all cars were equipped with all five of these features, they could potentially prevent 3.4 million crashes a year – – including 20,777 deaths — according to the Institute’s study [source: JDPower.com].
Should you become involved in any kind of car accident in which injuries are sustained, the first thing you should do is contact a personal injury attorney. When you are represented by a skilled attorney, you’ll have your best chance of being fairly compensated for any injuries that you sustain in an accident.
Call Jacobson, Schrinsky & Houck in Milwaukee TODAY at (414) 223-4444 to have one of our caring lawyers come out to meet you and get car accident help TODAY and money for your injuries. There is no fee until we win.
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