A few months ago, I was in a fender bender. I was taking my mother up to see my brother in D.C. and a few cars ahead of us, a couple drivers were road raging. One driver pulled in front of the other and slammed on his brakes. In my mother’s 2002 Toyota Sienna, I had plenty of distance between our vehicle and the vehicle in front of us, a Jeep Liberty. In spite of this distance, I rear-ended the Jeep Liberty, barely leaving a mark on it, but totaling my mother’s minivan due to front end damage and a bent frame. Nobody was injured and the impact wasn’t severe enough to deploy anyone’s airbags. (Thank you crumple zones!)
Fortunately, the minivan was still drivable, and the air conditioning still worked. The road ragers never stopped. They just went on their way. In any case, I know it was my fault I rear-ended the other car, regardless of what started the chain of events. I should have left more room.
When this happened, I pressed the brake pedal as hard as I could. As we continued to approach the Jeep, I wondered why I didn’t hear any squealing of the tires. Rather than hear constant squealing, like what you expect when you don’t have ABS, I expected to hear intermittent squealing as the ABS did its job.
Based on my experience, I now realize I’ve been wrong about ABS (on cars). Yes, it shortens your stopping distance in low traction conditions (like rain, snow, or ice), but on dry pavement, ABS actually extends your braking distance.
Knowing this, I wonder about my next vehicle. It will likely have ABS, especially if I buy a new vehicle rather than used, and I’m wondering how to route a switch to the driver’s console that would allow me to turn off the ABS in dry conditions and turn it on in low traction conditions. I’d want a switch, rather than just pulling the fuse, so I can activate and deactivate ABS without having to pull over.
What do you think of this idea?
P.S.- I use the “on cars” qualifier because on my motorcycle, the ABS works differently. The ABS only activates on the brake pedal, which normally operates the rear brakes, but is linked to both front and rear brakes on this motorcycle. The owner’s manual says I can achieve maximum braking by applying both hand and foot brake controls. The brake lever (hand control) is not linked to both brakes. It only activates the front brakes, and it isn’t connected to the ABS. If I had these kind of controls on a car (where I could apply extra braking to the front while trying to stop), there would be no reason to consider deactivating ABS on my next car.