What is Brake Assist?
Brake assist is an active vehicle safety feature designed to help drivers come to a halt more quickly through an episode of emergency braking. Studies reveal that when making emergency stops, about half of all drivers do not press the brake fast enough or hard enough to make complete use of their vehicle’s braking power (NHTSA 2010; Page et al. 2005). Brake assist is designed to recognize the tell-tale indications of emergency braking and provide drivers with extra brake support.
Brake assist is called by other names such as Emergency Brake Assist (EBA) and Predictive Brake Assist (PBA). The different names are significant because though all brake assist systems have the same purpose, some are designed automobile safety differently.
When would brake assist be useful?
Brake aid is useful whenever motorists must brake hard to make an emergency stop. Brake assist usually works in conjunction with anti-lock braking systems (ABS) to make flying as effective as possible while avoiding wheel lockage. There are Lots of relatively common situations that prompt heavy braking:
-A cyclist loses her balance and veers sharply in front of your vehicle.
-A large animal runs out into the road, forcing you to make an emergency stop.
-Cresting a hill, you encounter an unexpected line-up of automobiles and you must brake hard to prevent rear-ending another driver.
How can brake assist work?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the United States, brake assist systems fall into two general categories: electronic and mechanical. The principal difference between the two is in the method used to distinguish panic braking from normal braking.
Electronic brake assist systems use an electronic control unit (ECU) that contrasts cases of braking to pre-set thresholds. If a driver pushes the brake down hard enough and fast enough to surpass this threshold, the ECU will determine that there is an emergency and boosts braking power. A number of these systems are adaptable, so they’ll compile information about a driver’s particular braking style and tweak the thresholds to ensure the maximum precision in emergency-situation detection. Modern drive-by-wire vehicles (i.e., vehicles with an ECU) are qualified to have electronic brake assist installed.
Older vehicles that don’t have an ECU can have a mechanical brake assist system put in. Mechanical systems also use pre-set thresholds, but these are set automatically. This means they are not adaptable to individual drivers. These systems incorporate a locking mechanism which activates when the valve stroke — which is directly related to how far the brake pedal is pushed — passes a vital point. Once this threshold is passed, the locking mechanism changes the source of braking power from the brake piston valve to the brake booster, which provides the braking assistance.
How successful is brake assist?
The expected benefits of brake assist are many, especially given the sorts of situations that brake assist is intended to address. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in the United States has determined that the sorts of crashes pertinent to brake assist are those in which the driver saw a hazard, braked, but didn’t stop in time. Given this, the IIHS estimates that brake assist is pertinent to 417,000 crashes per year in the United States, such as 3,080 fatal crashes.
Other studies also support brake assist’s effectiveness for preventing and reducing the severity of certain kinds of vehicle crashes. By way of instance, NHTSA found a reduced stopped distance of around ten feet when brake assist engaged during an emergency stop. In addition, researchers in France estimate that brake assist would reduce injuries in 11% of all crashes, and reduce the whole number of road deaths between 6.5% and 9%.
Does brake help have any limitations?
Yes. Just like other vehicle safety technologies, getting the most out of brake assist requires that motorists understand its purpose and limitations. Both electronic and mechanical brake assist systems trigger only on the basis of a driver’s braking commands. If the signals of panic braking are there, brake help will participate to provide stopping support. However, inappropriate, unclear, or delayed braking actions could lead to brake assist either not tripping at all or failing to provide all available support.
The first thing to remember is that brake assist has no way of seeing obstacles ahead: it can’t scan for potential dangers and does not warn drivers of any threat. As such, drivers must continue to be vigilant by paying careful attention to the street and avoid behavior that could make identifying and responding to obstacles more difficult, such as speeding, impaired driving, fatigued driving, and distracted driving.
Also, drivers should be aware that the pre-set thresholds in both electronic and mechanical brake-assist systems by which they recognize panic braking are set intentionally high. This is to ensure that brake assist doesn’t engage when it is not needed. However, many drivers are not used to applying the brakes hard enough and fast enough to exceed these thresholds and trigger brake assist (NHTSA 2010). To get the most out of brake assist, motorists must use the brakes forcefully and decisively whenever they realize an emergency stop is required.
How common is brake help in today’s vehicles?
Brake aid was first introduced in high-end European vehicles in 1996. Since then, brake aid has become remarkably common in Europe and Australia where it is available as either standard or optional on the majority of new vehicles. In North America, brake assist was slower to get to the economy vehicle marketplace. But is now more commonly available as part of a security package, and some manufacturers offer brake assist as a standard attribute.