Practice Your Permit Test and Learn More about Braking Techniques

JAN 25, 2017

driver breaking

What Can You Learn about Braking While Studying for Your Permit Practice Test

When studying for your permit practice test and reading the driver’s manual, you can notice that it contains poor information about braking techniques, though provides several examples of using various methods of slowing down a vehicle under different situations. And if you have already had free practice of the permit test, you may find out that it covers quite a number of questions about using brakes. So it is assumed that you should not only learn some phrases from the driver’s manual, but also come to understand basic operating principles of braking system. Unfortunately, though you can practice the permit test based on the information in the manual, it doesn’t provide systematic overview of braking techniques.

Moreover, it is a question of something more important than just to learn and pass your permit practice test, as it comes to safe driving and your readiness to deal with accidents in real time on real roads. Improper use of brakes in dangerous situations may make them even worse and lead to a tragic car crash. So, it is important to know and understand various braking methods, their advantages and disadvantages depending on a situation, the possible consequences and necessary course of action. Sure, it is not enough to have only theoretical knowledge and free practice of the permit test can’t help you in obtaining practical skills. But at least you can learn the theoretical part to practice it after receiving your learner’s permit on a safe site – this will help you act quickly and correctly in a real situation.

When Do You Use Your Brakes?

Going through your manual when preparing for the permit test, you should get an idea that brakes are used in different ways depending on circumstances.

  • You can use the brakes to slow down your car without stopping it completely. This type of braking involves gradual reduction in speed achieved by pressing the brake pedal lightly, in small portions, not as far as it can go.
  • When you need to stop your vehicle completely, you use the brakes almost in the same way, but press the pedal and reduce the speed until your car stops.  

Both of the above methods of braking are used in normal driving conditions, when you don’t need to stop the car immediately and abruptly. This implies that you have complete control over the car and speed reduction process as opposed to emergency braking, which is used in emergency situations in order to prevent a possible accident. The main purpose of the emergency braking is to quickly and safely reduce the speed taking into account road conditions and other factors.

When preparing for your permit exam, you are sure to read recommendations given in the driver’s handbook about early and gentle braking. You should press the brake pedal smoothly, gradually increasing the pressure. Slamming the pedal may result in wheel lock-up, which is rather unpleasant even in normal road conditions. Besides, it is better to push the pedal by the arch of the foot instead of using your toe or heel. This is the surest way of retaining control over the pedal, since the arch won’t slip off like the toe and it has sufficient sensitivity in contrast to the heel. After passing your driver license practice test, master braking skills on the road, trying to pedal by this part of the foot.

Parking brake deserves special mention, as it also serves to stop a car and not only for parking as the name implies. It is used for holding the vehicle fixed at a place and is usually applied for helping in hill starts, for parking or instead of the regular footbrake in traffic jams. Having free practice of your learner’s permit test, you will also find out that the parking brake can be used in case of regular footbrake failure along with shifting to a lower gear – this helps reduce the speed.  

Engine Instead of Brakes

Do you know that you can slow down your vehicle using just your engine and gearshift? Moreover, this type of breaking is even recommended in some situations instead of using the regular footbrake. This method involves shifting to a lower gear in order to ease the engine and reduce the vehicle speed of movement.

Engine braking starts immediately, as soon as the gas pedal is released due to reduced fuel supply to the engine that decreases the engine linkage, which is transmitted to the wheels via the gearbox. If necessary braking force is not achieved, the driver should shift to a lower gear, but in turn: from fifth to fourth, from fourth to third and so on. In some emergency cases like regular footbrake failure, it is possible to shift to a lower gear, but this may cause engine or transmission damage. Note, that for old cars, which don’t have a split braking system, it is required to shift to a lower gear in case of footbrake failure for further emergency breaking – you can find a corresponding question when you practice the learner’s permit knowledge test. In normal situations, conversely, engine breaking prevents brake discs and pads wear due to overheating, and improves the efficiency of braking while helping to maintain control of the car. Thus, engine braking is especially recommended when driving down steep and long slopes.

Cadence and Threshold Braking – What Is Not Covered in Your Written Exam

There are some braking techniques, that require certain driving skills, but for any driver it is very useful to develop them in order to be able of responding adequately to dangerous situations.

  • Cadence braking is an effective method of emergency deceleration on vicious pave sections and sites with varying coefficient of adhesion (e.g., alternating ice, snow and dry pavement). It is characterized by a series of energetic but short pumping the brake pedal alternating with complete releasing of brake. The main peculiarity of this technique is to completely stop pressing the brake pedal, without losing contact with it right at the moment of the wheel lock-up. The right moment can be feltwhen the car stops losing the speed despite the increase in the braking force, while the side slip is generated and specific sound of skidding tires is heard. You can use cadence braking if your vehicle doesn’t feature ABS, since the system provides the same effect automatically.

Threshold braking is more advanced technique that is somewhat similar to the previous one, but consists in approaching to wheel lock-up or ABS engaging as close as possible without breaching the boundary. The driver press the brake pedal with his/her toes until vibrations in the steering wheel are felt showing the lock-up is about to happen. Threshold braking requires a lot of training to develop necessary sensitivity, but you can practice the DMV permit testing and then continue with behind-the-wheel practice keeping in mind that threshold braking is more effective than even the most up-to-date ABS. This technique allows maintaining brake force at the optimum level and reducing speed in the quickest possible way.