The key to being safe in a vehicle is always being in control of it, whether you’re braking, turning or just driving straight ahead on a slippery surface. Auto manufacturers have devised a number of electronic systems to help ensure that, six of which make up Toyota’s Star Safety System.
The system is standard and at no extra cost on every 2011 Toyota and Scion vehicle, says Sandy Di Felice, director of external affairs at Toyota Canada. “The best way to stop any issues is before they happen, and we’re giving you the tools to do that.”
The six programs are anti-lock brakes (ABS), vehicle stability control (VSC), traction control, electronic brake force distribution (EBD), brake assist (BA) and smart stop technology. Each has a specific function, but all are interconnected.
ABS, which only comes on during panic stops, rapidly pulsates the brakes to prevent them from locking up, allowing you to steer around an obstacle while braking. Should the vehicle start sliding, VSC will apply the brakes to specific wheels to bring everything back on the straight and narrow. Traction control comes on when one wheel is spinning, applying the brakes and decreasing the throttle to focus on the wheel that has traction.
When you’re driving on a varied surface, such as a road with wet patches, some wheels will have better grip than others. EBD distributes more brake force to the wheels that have more traction, giving the car maximum stopping power where it can best be used. Brake assist, on the other hand, determines how hard you’re pushing the brake pedal in a panic stop. “Imagine if a ball rolls into the street in front of your vehicle,” Di Felice says. “Your reaction time is so short, sometimes not enough pressure is applied and you could conceivably not brake in time. It will detect that you’re panic braking and it will add pressure, helping avoid hitting the ball and possibly the child chasing it.”
Finally, smart stop technology comes on if both the throttle and brake pedal are pressed at the same time, automatically reducing the engine power. “It slows everything down and allows the customers to know they are in control and have full braking capability in their vehicles,” Di Felice says.