ABS Drawbacks

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Sir,

I was interested to read the comments of your correspondent in the November issue concerning the possible drawbacks of having large numbers of ABS-equipped vehicles at large on our roads. I feel your correspondent has missed the most obvious point. Motor vehicles have been steadily developing in performance over the years, so that by now they possess degrees of acceleration, braking and roadholding well beyond the mental capabilities of most drivers (myself included). As the improvements become more common, you don’t get drivers of Marinas driving into the back of Porsches, although under our slightly ridiculous driving laws you can drive both at 70 mph on the same streaming wet slippery road and be within the law.

Drivers tend to adapt to the general performance of their vehicles and drive accordingly. The big danger as the performance of the vehicle improves is that it removes the driver well away from the road conditions, so the ABS driver will be totally unaware that his minimum stopping distance has suddenly increased tenfold owing to the oil, water, ice or whatever. The ABS driver may not have many ‘moments’ but they will be big ones!

Certainly I prefer to drive my simple, crude but very road-sensitive Morgan whenever there is a chance of unpredictable ice patches, but then I am interested in cars and driving, whereas the average motorist is not.

It’s sad that we readers of MOTOR SPORT represent a keen minority within an enormous herd who see no further than the bumper of the car in front — which is fine until the unforeseen occurs. ABS just removes the unforeseen further down the road. May the gospel of cable brakes and the crash gearbox continue to be preached!

NEVILLE LEAR Middlezoy, Somerset