Why have electric parking brakes replaced handbrakes when they are useless for slowing down in an emergency?

IB of New Milton referred to electric handbrakes. They may be more efficient as a ‘parking brake’ but, at a stroke, car manufacturers are disposing of a vital handbrake function: its use as an ‘emergency brake’. I know of at least three cases, including that of a personal friend, where the main braking systems have totally failed. Could somebody please explain how drivers are supposed to slow down the car with a button parking brake as opposed to a conventional one?

In one case, a very experienced amateur rally driver knew that his brakes had failed on a dual carriageway on the approach to a roundabout. He also knew that the electric brake would be useless or could make the situation even more dangerous if applied. He ended up deliberately grazing another vehicle to try to slow his speed, but it did not work. He suffered a broken back and will probably never work again. His wife and child also suffered injuries. The police initially charged him with dangerous driving but later dropped all charges.

I am sure that it will be pointed out that complete brake failure is a very rare occurrence on modern cars. That may be so, but do you want to be driving a car with a button handbrake when brake failure occurs?

Asked on 15 September 2012 by GG, Aberporth

Answered by Honest John
You're right. But a handbrake as an emergency brake is not an EC safety requirement. The EC is far more interested in legislating extra equipment into cars that makes fortunes for manufacturers and is prone to fail at great expense to the car owner, such as ESP. That said the latest LandRover Freelander II has gone over to electric parking brakes that can, in fact, be used as emergency brakes.
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