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What Is Brake Assist?

Brake assist systems can activate is a driver takes their foot off the gas pedal and immediately slams on the brakes.
Brake assist increases the pressure on the brakes, shortening the stopping distance and improving safety.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 26 September 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Brake assist is technology which is designed to kick in when a driver hits the brakes in a panic. Studies have shown that when people brake in a panic, they often fail to hit the brakes with enough pressure. Brake assist increases the pressure on the brakes, shortening the stopping distance and improving safety. This safety system is designed to work in conjunction with numerous other safety systems in a car to make driving safer in a wide variety of conditions.

Brake assist systems do not operate all the time; for the most part, the car allows the driver to decide when and how hard to brake. If, however, the driver yanks a foot off the gas and slams on the brake pedal, the car will read this as panic braking and activate the brake assist systems. Some cars with collision avoidance systems will actually prime the braking system and even initiate breaking automatically to prevent a collision.

There are several issues which brake assist systems are supposed to address. The first is the issue of slow reaction times. People are often slow to react when they spot hazards, braking too late to prevent an accident. The second is not enough pressure; with a brake assist system, the brake is fully applied even when someone's foot is not applying enough pressure. The system usually combines with an antilock brake system (ABS) for additional safety.

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Brake assist alone is not going to save people from accidents or prevent accidents. But it can help to reduce the incidence of accidents, and to reduce the severity of accidents. Someone with brake assist, for example, might tap the back of a car stuck in traffic instead of slamming into it. This would mean that the risk of injuries was greatly reduced, making the roads a safer place. Damage to the car could also be reduced as well, by minimizing the force of impact.

The European Union has mandated the installation of brake assist systems in new vehicles, under the belief that it increases safety for drivers and on the roads in general. Brake assist may also entitle people to breaks on their insurance, with the insurance company recognizing it as a passive safety system which will reduce liability. People paying high rates for car insurance should definitely inquire about discounts for passive safety systems, as insurance agents may not always mention such discounts when a policy is first written.

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