photo prose

Skilled braking en route to simcha


Who wants to be sick at a simcha? Carsickness and seasickness can certainly dampen one’s enthusiasm for doing anything and being anywhere. Children driven longer distances can arrive in an irritable state even though they were so excited an hour earlier. As snow comes to these parts we know to drive slower and recall such snow-driving skills as steering into a skid. But you can practice an approach to driving that leads to better control in any weather and that lessens carsickness.

I try teaching it to anyone whose vehicle I find myself in. As with photography, some don’t care to develop skill. If you are prone to carsickness you feel better in the driver’s seat where you are one with your driving decisions as your balance systems coincide with what eyes and mind anticipate. If others are prone to carsickness please try my braking technique and they will feel better after a long ride.

You don’t drive by lurching forward, braking, then lurching again. But when braking, most people don’t think twice about slowing down rapidly so that at every single stop, heads which are moving forward suddenly experience a discomforting direction change at the very last second. My braking technique is all in the ankle. I can stop rapidly, but before coming to a standstill, I let it roll and then slow until the roll is nearly indistinguishable from a stop. No, you won’t hit anyone or anything this way. You will feel and be more in control of your vehicle. Because as you break, you make sure that your vehicle never rocks back to the point that the brain changes directions and confuses your balance systems.

Better-engineered vehicles make this easier because their brakes don’t seize at solo revolutions, but I can do this in anything, even an old truck.

Always make sure to completely stop at stop signs and red lights. But use your ankle to deftly control break pressure so your speed never goes to dead zero suddenly. Before zero it should be going inches per hour, before that, feet per hour, before that yards per hour, before that … you get the idea. It is all about stopping fast but never letting the head change directions in the last second of motion.

Going downhill is easy. The vehicle will continue to roll, just let it do so by increasing pedal pressure gradually rather than suddenly. Your goal is never to stop, just keep halving your speed until you find yourself no longer moving! Going uphill is far trickier and is the mark of a truly skilled braking expert. You must reduce brake pedal pressure to allow vehicle to roll uphill. Apply gentle gas to keep rolling but next time do better.

Skilled braking is more challenging, but also more satisfying and a calmative during traffic snarls. Treats others in your vehicle with the respect they deserve and soon it will be automatic for you and appreciated by them. Don’t force it. Pace it out.

Gary Rabenko is artistic and technical director of Rabenko Photography and Video Arts at 1053 Broadway, Woodmere., 888-722-3656.