Because antilock brakes are part of electronic stability control systems, they are now standard equipment on passenger vehicles as of the 2012 model year, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
In general, antilock braking systems use sensors to monitor the rotational speeds of selected wheels when you hit the brakes. If a wheel locks up, the electronic control unit of the system applies and releases braking pressure multiple times per second.
The main benefit of antilock brakes is their application on wet and slippery roads, like the ones you often encounter during the winter.
However, antilock brakes haven't had a significant impact on passenger vehicle crashes, even during winter months, and it's unclear why. The IIHS says the average motorist rarely experiences total loss of control, which antilock brakes prevent. In addition, many drivers in the early days of antilock brakes didn't know how to use them effectively.
"To be effective, the driver must step firmly on the brakes without pumping them. That's an aspect that many drivers don't understand," Lachnit says.