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Anti-lock braking system

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An Anti-lock Braking System (commonly known as ABS) is a system on motor vehicles which prevents the wheels from locking[?] while braking. ABS is a very important safety feature, because vehicles become very unstable when the wheels are locked, braking becomes inefficient and so braking distances become very long.

It was developed for automobiles, and later used on motorcycles.

The Antilock brake controller is also known as the CAB (controller antilock brake).

A typical ABS is composed of a central electronic unit, four speed sensors (one for each wheel), and two or more hydraulic valves on the brake circuit. The electronic unit costantly monitors the rotation speed of each wheel. When it senses that one or more wheel is rotating slower than the others (a condition that will bring it to lock), moves the valves to decrease the pressure on the braking circuit, effectively reducing the braking force on that wheel.

ABS do not cause a lengthening of the braking distance on high-traction surfaces such as bitumen (even when wet): it is true that its main function is to decrease braking force on selected wheels, but it does so only to wheels that were locking, and so where not contributing effectively to the braking action. Bringing the wheel up to the real vehicle speed with the others will instead offer the optimum braking action. How much they actually reduce braking distances on bitumen is a subject of debate and depends in any case on driver skill.

In gravel and snow, ABS without doubt increases braking distances; on these surfaces a locked wheel digs in and stops the vehicle quickly. ABS prevents this from occurring. Some ABS controllers reduce this problem by slowing the cycling time, thus letting the wheels repeatdly, briefly, to lock and then unlock again.

When activated, the ABS causes the brake pedal to pulse significantly. As most drivers rarely or never brake hard enough to cause brake lockup, and never bother to read the car's manual, this is never discovered until an emergency. When drivers do encounter an emergency situation that causes them to brake hard and thus encounter this pulsing for the first time, many are believed to reduce pedal pressure and thus lengthen braking distances and contributing to a higher level of accidents than the superior emergency stopping capabilities of ABS would indicate. Some manufacturers have therefore implemented "brake assist" systems that determine the driver is attempting a crash stop and maintain braking force in this situation.

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