10 Steps To Stopping Safely.
A brake failure is a fear possessed by many drivers. Here is what to do if it happens to you. By: Josh Max
"Eddie Hagan was driving down a rural road near his suburban home, behind the wheel of his 2003 Honda Civic. It was just after six in the morning and he was on his way to work. It was just like any other day -- until it wasn't.
"I stepped on the brakes near a curve," he said. "and nothing happened."
His car was gathering speed and headed towards a sharp curve. Seeing traffic approaching, Hagan applied the emergency brake and the car went into a spin, leaving the road and stalling in a field. He was lucky, shaken, but fine.
"In retrospect," he says. "I panicked. I didn't think to downshift. All I could think about was stopping."
Thankfully, complete brake failure is a rare occurrence. But when it happens, it's almost always unexpected -- and the results can be life threatening, to say the least.
In 2008, comedian Jerry Seinfeld crashed his vintage Fiat when the brakes failed. In this case, the emergency brakes also failed and Seinfeld had to swerve to avoid an intersection. The car flipped over before coming to a stop, but Seinfeld was uninjured in the crash, according to reports.
Others have been less fortunate. Experts say the best prevention for brake failure is routine maintenance and inspection, and that drivers should pay attention to their brakes with their feet and their ears. For example, if you hear grinding or squealing, take your car off the road and have it looked at by a certified mechanic. If the brake pedal feels different than it did the day before, do similarly.
10 Steps to Safety:
The National Safety Council recommends the following steps if your brakes suddenly fail:
1. Downshift immediately
Putting the car in a lower gear allows the engine to slow the car, and may give you enough time to be able to safely pull over. Whether you're driving an automatic or a manual, try to downshift smoothly through the gears. If you downshift too quickly, you risk a skid. Do not shut off the car to stop it, as you'll lose your power steering, and do not put the car in neutral or you will lose the engine braking effect.
2. Try the emergency brake, but don't depend on it to stop you
If you're driving a car with a good, strong emergency brake, go ahead and use it. In cars with manual transmissions, the emergency brake is often operated via a hand-activated lever located behind the shifter, while in many automatics you use a small pedal located on the far left of the driver. It helps to try your emergency brake out at slow speeds to see how much stopping power it really has.
3. Work your vehicle into the right lane as soon as you can
Move toward the right shoulder of the road, or, if possible, toward an exit. If it is necessary to change lanes, do so smoothly and carefully, watching your mirrors and the traffic around you closely.
4. Stay off the gas pedal
Perhaps this goes without saying, but do not touch the gas pedal. Your goal, right now, is to slow down, pull over and safely stop.
5. Check for brake pedal blockage
Believe it or not, debris such as as soda cans or bottles, coffee cups, rolls of paper towels and other items bouncing around in the cockpit can wedge behind your brake pedal, preventing its use. Make sure the pedal's path is clear and if not, kick the obstruction out of the way. (Another reason for having animals restrained in a vehicle)
6. Pump your brakes only if you have an older car without anti-lock brakes (ABS)
If your car has standard brakes they may respond to pumping, which could build up enough hydraulic pressure to allow them to work again. But many newer cars with ABS will do the pumping for you, so you should firmly press the brake pedal even if the brakes are not working. The brake failure may be temporary and if they suddenly start working again, your foot will be where it needs to be.
7. Alert others
Turn on your hazards and honk your horn until you're stopped so other motorists will know to give you plenty of room.
8. If you must hit something, aim for something "soft"!
This is a judgment call, but a wooden fence is better than a tree, for example -- and anything is preferable to hitting a human being.
9. Stay calm
Knowing the steps outlined in this article and being able to perform them should give you the confidence to respond naturally instead of panicking, in the unlikely event that your brakes do fail.
10. Once you're safely stopped, summon help
Don't be tempted to drive the car again, even if the brakes suddenly start working. Have the car towed to a repair shop or dealer for inspection and repair."
Tips for Safe Texting
- Remain seated -- or at least stationary. Texting while you should be paying attention to where you're headed (walking, driving, etc.) is a dangerous -- to you and those around you.
- Just let it ring or buzz. You can see who texted you after you stop driving. Throw the phone in the back seat if you don't have the will power. It's not worth dying over!
- With great power comes great responsibility. Kids should follow safe texting rules in order to earn the privilege of owning a phone. For guidance on establishing rules for your family, see our tips on Responsible Text Messaging.
- Monkey see, monkey do. Admit it, parents, how many times have you texted while driving or held a cell phone at the wheel despite hands-free laws? In our 24/7 society, it's really hard to resist the impulse to answer the phone as soon as it rings. But remember: Your kids are watching and will ultimately copy your behavior.
Yesterday, as well as getting some grocery shopping done, I managed to visit a couple of thrift shops. I scored a new bone-color $49 purse, still with label attached, for $2 at the Salvation Army store, and a pair of new bone-color Grasshopper shoes for $3.50, at the Nearly New Thrift Shop.
I had also off loaded the recycled paper, recycled plastic bags, and gave some good plastic bags to a thrift shop. Used kitty litter is heavy, if you only have garbage pick-up once a week, so I put the daily bags of it in an empty cat food bag, tape it up, and dropped it off in a community dumpster. I hope our garbage man appreciates that.
As I am going to order a bigger window for the cargo trailer, to replace the 'dreaded' one, that part is at a standstill right now. So Jay and I just did 'fix-it' jobs. The outside faucet shut-off in the garage was still leaking, so we tried to fix that. Fortunately, it was after the shut-off this time, as it will have to wait until I buy a new faucet to fix it. A fitting broke off in the faucet, but at least I have water in the house until I can get to a store.
Then we attacked the still dormant hedge on the north side, which has grown so high that Bobcat can't watch the traffic going along the road behind my house, from her favorite bed in my bathroom window.
We strung some construction tape from tree to tree with a post in the middle, and Jay cut it all even. You can hardly see the road, at tape height.
I hope we don't get another freeze, as we uncovered the trough of aloe, which didn't fare too well over this cold winter, nor did the grass. We took the covers off the soffit vents which are put there to keep the icy Canadian winds out of my attic. We don't cover the ones on the south, as all the water lines are in the north end of the attic. Even though the lines are insulated, I don't take any chances. The covers get stored upstairs in my attic, so we took the inside covers off the turbos and power vent.
By the time we had raked up the hedge clippings and pine needles and taken then to the burn pile, we had had enough for today.