Poor Braking Habits
Are You A ‘TAILGATE CHARLIE’, ‘ENGINEER’ OR ‘FOOT CONTROLLER’?
Kwik Fit, the UK’s largest automotive repair and servicing company, have just released some interesting research about the way that we brake.
It may not seem that any research to do with just how we stop our vehicles would be remotely interesting but it seems that nearly 20 million motorists are using their brakes in potentially dangerous, damaging and frequently infuriating ways, as 59% of British motorists are ignoring the use of brakes as laid down in the Highway Code: and this means that not only are they putting the lives of pedestrians and other drivers at risk but are also threatening the health of their vehicle.
Another couple of statistics from the study about the nation’s braking habits are that 1.7 million drivers admitted to having caused an accident through their own braking errors, and 4.3 million say they have been in an accident because someone else made the error (whilst braking.)
It seems that, according to Kwik Fit’s research, a lot of motorists are using a braking technique which is now considered to be no longer appropriate and that they are also approaching the act of braking “in a way which has never been part of good driver training.”
So what the research did, to show the various ways in which braking is approached, is to divide today’s motorists into six definitive groups:
- ENGINEERS – These tend to be older drivers (There are over 11 million of them) who use the brakes as little as possible and tend to slow down by using the gears. This is how it was once taught in driving schools in order to save wearing down what were once expensive brake pads and discs; but now braking systems have improved and worn brake pads and discs are much easier and cheaper to replace than engine, clutch and gearbox components. ‘Engineering’ is essentially a male domain according to the research with 37% of men admitting to it.
- HOVERERS – The greater than 3 million drivers who leave their foot hovering over the brake pedal ready to use and just dab the brakes when needed.
- PEDAL PUMPERS – There are around 2.7 million of these. They are the drivers who admit to slowing down by repeatedly hitting the brakes and then easing off, and most of them fall into the under 24 years old age bracket.
- TAILGATE CHARLIES – Do exactly what it says on the tin. 500,000 drivers, mostly aged between 25 and 34, who only brake – and brake hard – when they get close to the traffic ahead, reportedly in case it speeds up and they don’t have to break.
- STOMPERS – 800,000 motorists who brake hard when they first have to, and then not so hard as they get closer to the traffic in front.
- FOOT CONTROLLERS – The technique that allows the driver maximum control of the vehicle and used by fewer half of road users – 41% (13.8 million.) This means applying the brakes early and gently at first, then increasing the pressure as the gap to traffic decreases.
Many readers of this blog will recognise themselves in the categories, even if they don’t admit it at first. The chances of you being an ‘Engineer’ are great as 33% of drivers fall into this category, letting their engine and gearbox take the strain by shifting to a lower gear instead of braking first. Admittedly it works, but the strain, wear and tear on what are now expensive components doesn’t make it very financially astute.
Roger Griggs, communications director at Kwik Fit says: “The research shows that there are a huge variety of braking techniques on our roads and some of them are less than ideal. Whether it’s through lack of concentration, bad habits or desperately trying to save time on their journeys, people are trying all sorts of braking tactics.
“Braking too early, too late, too suddenly or even not at all can create real problems on the roads. Poor or unusual braking not only makes driving stressful for other motorists but is responsible for a lot of accidents. The latest official statistics show that accidents caused by sudden braking account for the death or serious injury of almost one thousand people a year.
“This is all before you think of the damage bad braking can do to a car. If they are used too harshly, brake pads can wear out quicker than expected, putting drivers at risk of serious brake failure if they haven’t had them regularly checked.”
And that last sentence is where Kwik Fit comes in with over 600 service centres across the UK and more than 200 mobile tyre fitting vehicles, making it the UK’s leading tyre, exhaust, brake and MoT specialist!