This is a neat, simple risk management trick.
It involves you identifying potentially risky situations as you’re driving along and, if warranted, lifting off the accelerator (or off the floor if you’re using cruise control) and – here’s the important bit – putting your foot on top of the brake pedal (without actually braking). Then, if the situation worsens, you’ll be literally that much closer to applying the brakes successfully.
Here, small savings in time save you a major dose of stopping distance. Let’s say it takes you two seconds to move your foot from the accelerator (or the floor) to the brake. That two seconds you can save by moving your foot in advance means 55 metres less stopping distance at 100km/h – the difference between crashing in a very big way, or not.
If you need to do an emergency stop (ie, stop the car as quickly as you can) you must press the brakes as hard as possible, as early as possible. Most new cars have ABS and other hi-tech features like EBA (emergency brake assist) that mean technology does most of the heavy lifting after that. You just need to keep pressing hard until the scenery stops moving – and don’t forget to steer.
This hi-tech hardware means the human in charge is often emergency braking’s weakest link. This tip helps you get on the brakes quicker – which is critical to a safer emergency stop.
If your car does not have ABS brakes, you will need advanced training and practise if you want to get emergency stopping right.
A final thing to note is that you cannot damage the brake system by slamming the pedal as hard as possible. Not even Arnie and Sly Stallone could manage that.