A chase can be thwarted by a braking system that is not up to speed

Video games and action films have taught us that the one who has the upper hand in a road chase does not always have a more powerful car. The driver must be skilled and have quick wits. It is a confirmed fact that police officers have these qualities, but what makes the difference with cunning criminals are the structural characteristics of the vehicle, including the braking system.


About ten years ago, the police force from New South Wales (one of the six Australian states) realised this after conducting a series of tests at the Police Driver Training Centre in Goulburn (a city located 200 km from Sydney). During these tests, which are more stringent than those carried out in the other states, the squads repeatedly accelerate and brake for extended periods of time in order to simulate a chase. The cars that do not pass the test are rejected.




In an interview on the website, an officer with 20 years of experience told how the standard discs used in the past lost their effectiveness after just a few hard stops and the brake pads turned to mush. Ever since the better brakes have been fitted, the cars are able to slow down in intersections more safely (so as not to involve other vehicles) and then accelerate again during a chase. 


Other police officers pointed out that there are fewer pursuits overall because criminals know that their brakes will run down before the brakes on the police car. The credit goes to the Ford Falcon XR6 Turbo and the Holden Commodore SS V8, which the police have used for over thirty years.



Besides the lights, antennas, and police decals, the main difference with respect to the other production vehicles is the braking system.


To keep at bay the 270 kW and 530 Nm of torque in the 4-litre turbo engine of the Falcon XR6, the car is equipped with Brembo brakes composed of 4-piston fixed calipers and forged discs. This braking system guarantees a rapid response time and accurate stopping capability, even during long pursuits that are characterised by intense, repetitive braking.


However, the eminent closing of the two production hubs in Australia will force the police to change its supplier: Ford is scheduled to shut down its plant in October and Holden will close up shop by the end of 2017. Different hypothesis are being examined carefully, including vehicles that have Brembo braking systems as original equipment.


Once again, the availability of superior braking systems will  make the difference.