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Driver Perception of the Performance of the Secondary Braking Systems

United Kingdom
United Kingdom Flag
Geo-spatial type
STRIA Roadmaps
Transport mode
Road icon
Transport policies
Societal/Economic issues,
Transport sectors
Passenger transport,
Freight transport


Background & Policy context

Modern vehicle braking systems include an emergency, secondary, braking system to ensure that the driver can brake the vehicle in the event of a failure in the main braking system. However, there is anecdotal evidence that, in accidents where vehicles have suffered perceived 'brake failure', the drivers are not making use of the secondary braking system and believe that the vehicle has no brakes at all. The result being that the vehicle is involved in a collision that possibly could have been avoided.


This perception of total brake failure may be due to a number of issues including the feel of the brake pedal, the lower deceleration possible with the secondary brake system, or simply a lack of understanding of these systems. This research will investigate the extent of the problem and offer solutions, including alternative vehicle/brake system construction and how drivers may be informed of this safety feature.


As part of this research the contractor will carry out tests on a range of subjects using a car simulator and specially modified car to determine driver reaction to brake failure. This will be carried out using a range of drivers of mixed driving abilities and will provide valuable information on driver reaction and attitude to the brake failure.


The main objectives of the project are to:

  • determine the number of motor vehicle accidents where brake failure has been reported as the cause of, or a contributory factor to, the accident;
  • determine driver reaction to brake failure;
  • propose solutions to modify vehicle construction or braking system design to improve secondary brake performance in the event of primary brake system failure;
  • propose solutions as to how the driver of a vehicle could most effectively be informed of the existence and operation of a secondary braking system; and
  • develop draft proposals for amendments to European legislation to reflect the findings of this research.


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Public institution
Institution Name
Department for Transport
Type of funding
Public (national/regional/local)


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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