Thursday, April 8, 2004
What Would You Do: Driving Without Brakes Or A Stuck Accelerator
Every year, South Florida drivers get into thousands of car accidents. Some of them are fender-benders; some of them are fatal. But what you do if you're driving down the road and suddenly your brakes go out? Would you know how to avoid an accident? Here's Seven's Charles Perez with the answer.
Our road routine all too common - buckle up, turn the key, sit back, and go.
But imagine being on the highway, hitting the brake ... and nothing happens.
What do you do?
Bob Peterson of the National Safety Council says,"First order of business is to get the car into the lowest gear it has, because that will slow it down."
On automatic transmissions, that means dropping it down to first or second.
On manual transmissions ... downshift ... and then use the parking brake.
"It could be on a foot lever, it could be on a hand lever," says Bob.
The key - use the brake sparingly.
"Because if you lock it up, the car is going to slide sideways and go out of control," says Bob.
In fact ... look at what happens when we locked up the parking brake on this van.
Even at speeds of 45 miles an hour ... We slid from side to side ... and even all the way around.
"You apply pressure to the parking brake," says Bob, "but release it if you sense any skidding any side motion at all. You release it and reapply it just as you would pump your breaks in a normal skid."
But the rules are different if you're on a city street, at slower speeds. If your brakes go out then, you want to pull the parking brake as hard as you can.
And since you're likely going less than 40-miles per hour ... It's unlikely you will skid.
On the other hand, what happens when the gas pedal gets stuck?
Most of the time, debris rolling around is to blame.
"If you keep a big heavy flashlight under the seat, it could come foreword when you brake and it could wedge on the accelerator," says Bob.
Obviously, you can't bend down while you're driving.
So what do you do?
First get the car out of gear.
"Just shift the car into neutral," says Bob. "So even though the engine will still be running at a high rate of speed, you've taken the car out of gear, so you won't be accelerating anymore."
"So then I can stop the car?" Charles asks.
"You can stop the car."
Or another option - use the brakes.
"You can overpower your accelerator with the brakes somewhat," says Bob.
But avoid just turning off the key... That can be dangerous.
"The only problem with this is you no longer have power steering and you're going to lose your power braking ability somewhat," says Bob.
Plus on some cars, the steering wheel will lock up... And then you've lost even more control.
Next week, what do you do if a pipe explodes in your house? Don't panic and call the plumber. Charles will show us the proper steps.
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