Safety made simple

AUTOMATIVE design is constantly changing, futuristic exteriors, electrically powered, autopilot, built-in sat-nav and now the conventional hand brake is set to be a thing of the past.

It is reported that 37 per cent of new cars are fitted with the traditional parking brake lever.

Premium brands such as Audi, Land Rover, Mercedes and Porsche have all opted against the mechanical feature, with many others following suit. However, lack of the feature does not mean a lack of safety as the new electronic parking brake serves the same purpose.

Both have to pass the relevant product standards for volume sales and an MoT test.

As cars are increasingly fitted with automatic gearboxes, linked to the handbrake, and automatic hold functions for hill-starts, the integration of the so-called handbrake and the other sophisticated control systems makes more sense than attempting to leave the mechanical element under the direct control of the driver – the danger of the mechanical and the electronic systems interfering with each other is plain. 

An electronic parking brake is operated using a switch that activates a pair of small motors that engage the rear brakes. What was once considered a luxury and advanced feature, the electronic brake requires less physical effort and holds the car more securely.

Most electronic handbrakes disengage automatically when you pull away, plus they often offer the additional safety benefit of an automatic hill-hold assist function. The switch helps streamline cabins by taking up less interior space than a chunky lever on the centre console.  

However, on the downside, the consequence of an electronic parking brake malfunctioning could be more drastic. A faulty handbrake will usually make its impending failure apparent before it eventually goes; the electronic version may do so more suddenly. If so, then the car could be rendered immobile.

The BMW 7 series, released way back in 2002 was the first to feature a button on the steering wheel to operate the electronic brake. Today it can be found on anything from Civics to Golfs and other affordable models.

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Written by

Damon Mitchell

From the interviewed to the interviewer

As frontman of a rock band Damon used to court the British press, now he lives the quiet life in Spain and seeks to get to the heart of the community, scoring exclusive interviews with ex-pats about their successes and struggles during their new life in the sun.

Originally from Scotland but based on the coast for the last three years, Damon strives to bring the most heartfelt news stories from the spanish costas to the Euro Weekly News.

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