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Notes From the Road

Active Safety Technologies - Discern the definitions of systems that help you handle the unforeseen.
By The Editors/autoMedia.com

Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD)
What it is: EBD is included in some ABS systems; it electronically distributes the brake hydraulic pressure between front and rear wheels depending on vehicle load and driving conditions.

How it works: EBD monitors the load on the front and rear axles, then via the ABS controller it sends relatively more braking power to the axle with the greater load.

What it feels like: EBD functions invisibly, so the driver is unaware of its operation.

How it benefits the driver: EBD helps ensure that the front and rear tires share the braking loads more effectively under all conditions, which results in better braking performance.

Brake Assist
What it is: Brake Assist is included in some ABS systems, and helps the driver apply brakes more fully in an emergency-braking situation.

How it works: When the driver steps suddenly and forcefully on the brake pedal, as he or she would in an emergency, Brake Assist aids in the application of the brakes to help ensure the shortest possible stops.

What it feels like: Most drivers won't specifically notice Brake Assist in operation, though they might detect strong braking performance in "panic stop" situations.

How it benefits the driver: Brake Assist makes the most of the vehicle's braking capability in emergency braking situations, which can shorten stopping distance.

Traction Control
What it is: Traction Control is an electronic system that automatically keeps the drive wheels (either front, rear, or both in the case of an AWD or 4WD vehicle) from spinning during acceleration. This improves traction and vehicle stability in slippery driving conditions. Also known as Electronic Traction Control.

How it works: A microprocessor compares the rotational speed of the vehicle's front and rear wheels while also tracking such values as throttle opening. When one of the drive wheels loses traction, its rotational speed quickly rises compared to that of the other wheels. When this happens, the electronic control unit signals the engine to reduce power output and/or rapidly pulses the brake for the wheel that is spinning. The brake pulsing is done via the Anti-lock Braking System hydraulic pump. All cars that have Traction Control also have ABS (see above).

What it feels like: Traction Control activation can feel somewhat different from vehicle to vehicle. When the system activates there is generally a momentary delay in acceleration as the spinning wheel is brought under control. Then the vehicle smoothly accelerates ahead.

How it benefits the driver: The most important benefit of Traction Control is that it helps the driver retain control while accelerating on slippery surfaces such as snow, ice or water – or even dirt roads or trails for SUVs. It can also help high-powered cars maintain traction in a straight line or while accelerating on roads that have rough or uneven pavement.


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