How to Brake Smoothly (The Pivot Method)

Braking is a skill. Braking, just like any other aspect of driving, takes a certain level of skill to get right. Good braking technique will not only be less stressful on the driver and passengers, but it will also prolong the life of the vehicle itself.

Today’s cars have brakes that are getting better every year. Brake rotors, brake pads, and other components in the brake system are improving year after year, meaning that braking is becoming easier and safer at the same rate. This also means that the brake pedal does not need to be pushed very hard to send enough pressure to the brakes to stop the car. Stopping too abruptly is uncomfortable, can result in spilled beverages, and can set in motion a number of other unsecured items. Too much abrupt braking can cause enough heat to cause warping on the surface of the brake rotor.

Good technique is key

The Pivot Method is a foolproof way to press the brakes smoothly and consistently. In order to brake with the Pivot Method, the driver must:

  • Plant the heel of the right foot on the floor, close enough to the brake pedal so that the ball of the foot can touch the center of the pedal.

  • Rest most of the weight of the foot on the floor while pivoting it forward to apply light pressure to the brake pedal.

  • Gradually increase pressure until the car is nearly to a complete stop.

  • Ease off the brake pedal slightly before coming to a complete stop to keep the vehicle from bouncing back too hard.

Things to avoid

  • Stomping: This is hard to avoid when a surprising situation pops up that requires quick braking but, for any other situation, the pivot method will be more effective than jamming the pedal down.

  • Putting weight on the pedal: Some people naturally lean into the pedal with the weight of the foot or leg.

  • Creating too much distance between the driver’s foot and the brake pedal: If the driver’s foot is not very close to the brake pedal, then the driver could potentially miss the pedal when braking suddenly.

Mastering this technique may well lead to a lifetime of happy passengers and un-spilled beverages!


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