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ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) Braking Systems: A Future Without Skidmarks!

NCJ Number
Law and Order Volume: 37 Issue: 3 Dated: (March 1989) Pages: 18-21
R A DuBois
Date Published
4 pages
The anti-lock braking systems (ABS) that are increasingly being used in vehicles will improve vehicle safety by reducing vehicle skids but will present complications for accident investigators in that the skidmarks that have had an important role in accident investigation will no longer be present.
ABS guarantee optimum brake performance in emergency situations, regardless of a driver's skill. They become active once the car is going faster than about 5 miles per hour. Recent testing has shown that vehicles with ABS generally stop 10 to 15 percent faster than other vehicles. However, the marks they leave are usually faint and short-lived. Thus, treating ABS marks as ordinary skidmarks will produce underestimates of a vehicle's speed. Techniques tried to enhance the visibility of the skidmarks include photography with a polarizing filter, infrared photography, and ultraviolet light. Further possibilities are currently the subject of research. Until reliable techniques are developed, accidents involving vehicles with ABS systems will require particular attention and close examination to avoid inappropriate conclusions that brake failure or failure to use brakes caused an accident. Diagram.