“Pump the brakes” is a newer phrase of the youths of America that tends to mean something similar to “tread lightly” or “you’re on thin ice.” Funnily enough, the phrase has roots in reality!
When you drive on slick surfaces such as icy, snowy, or thoroughly wet roads, stopping can be a challenge. Slamming on brakes is likely to cause your car to hydroplane, or skid across the icy pavement. Up until 1929, every car manufactured came without antilock brakes (or ABS for short). To make stopping more manageable, people would brake on and off in rapid succession to have more control of their vehicle.
What is ABS? It’s a system in your car that flutters or repeatedly applies the brakes in rapid succession. this gives you more control over your vehicle when rapidly stopping. The alternative to ABS, are systems that slam onto the rotor of your wheel and lock the tire in place while you skid to a stop. The ABS was a revolution in automotive safety and are installed on nearly all modern cars.
ABS literally, “pumps the brakes” at unimaginable speeds for us.
In winter weather though, it is still good if we do our part as well! If you feel your car begin to go into a skid while rapidly stopping, try rapidly pushing the break pedal in and out to give yourself more control of the skid. If hydroplaning, let off the gas and brake all together and wait until you have full control once again.