There are some very bad situations in life. But a few can be as worse as stepping over your brakes to realize its turned loose. At that moment, your life flashes right before you and a thousand thoughts swirl over your head. In that frantic state, most people will give up anything just for some miracle to materialize. Yeah well, maybe a miracle won’t happen, but it is not the end of the world just yet.
The following instructions might be your hail Mary if you ever find yourself in such a terrible situation.
Don’t press the panic button just yet.
This might sound a little phony but overreacting will only worsen the situation. So you might want to just a deep breath and “enjoy” the ride.
Be Sensitive To How The Brake Pedal Feels.
Sometimes, a faulty master cylinder or problems with calipers may cause the brake pad to be soft and edge closer to the floor. Pump the brakes intermittently and you may able to achieve enough braking pressure. In a situation where the brake pad is however stiff and wouldn’t budge, there’s a chance that something might be stuck underneath. If you could, manage to sneak a peek under you to check. Or you can have a passenger check it for you.
Shift into low gear.
You could also turn the car against itself. In other words, you use the engine to slow down the car. If the car is an automatic transmission vehicle, slowly navigate the gear into low range (usually labeled as 1 on the gear shifting system). If the car is, however, a manual transmission vehicle, downshift at one or two gear at a time until you feel the car slow down. Great care must, however, be ensured at this point because the downshifting process could make you lose control and the situation could get more hostile. Some cars have implemented in them some other means of slowing down the car which may include a retarder or a Jake brake. Use these mechanisms slowly and very carefully too.
The Emergency Brake
The emergency brake, also known as the parking brake is designed to also halt a vehicle. However,. because it only stops the rear wheels, it will take longer than usual, unlike traditional braking system. Well, it is better late than never isn’t it? So here’s how to make use of the emergency brake. Engage the brake either pulling up on the handle or pushing down on the pedal (depending on the makeup of the vehicle). This should be done slowly and with caution, as it could lock the tire if applied too hard or too fast.
At this time, the tires may squeal slightly but it doesn’t mean they are actually locked up. You should then release just a small bit of pressure from the brake application and keep it held there.
Focus on the road and don’t lose hold of the steering
Be aware of your surrounding—what lays ahead of you, what is behind and beside you and your general surroundings. Be sensitive to other motorists, pedestrians, and passersby. Turn on your hazard/caution lights, let them know by all means that you have a problem with the off chance that it may affect them. Horn honk and hoot. Wave and shout to other drivers and try to communicate the problem as cautiously as possible without causing great panic.
Manipulate your surroundings to drag down the vehicle.
If the above measures have proved worthless for you, you can try a few other techniques which will involve using your surroundings to slow the vehicle. But keep in mind that these measures are riskier and should be employed only after the aforementioned relatively safe measures have been engaged.
First is the terrain. Try to seek out upward slopes that can make the car go up. The uphill drive should work up the vehicle into a halt. But if not, be prepared to do some reverse driving and or use the emergency brake at the necessary time.
Also, use the road friction to your advantage. Slugging your car through gravel or dirt can slow your vehicle considerably. Therefore, keep an eye out for a roughshod, dirt or gravel sideways of the road. However, extreme care must be taken here. Approach to a graveled or grassy sideway must be made progressively, smoothly and gently. Small trees and shrubs will also slow down your vehicle where all else fails. But care must be taken not to run through a tree too thick for the vehicle to forebear. Therefore, you must be particularly careful in the choice of tree you may want to run across. Large trees or trunks can be very fatal.
If each and every option listed above has failed, then you have no other option but to crash the vehicle. But the trick here is to considerably mitigate the crash effect. The safest method is to look for bushy protrusions or shrubs and run through it which will significantly reduce the car speed. If there are no bushes, then grass is another safe bet, especially tall grasses.
If the crash option available to you demands you to jump a curb, extra caution must be exercised. Because even with power steering, the cars initial reaction will be to rip the steering wheel out of your control. You must, therefore, grip tightly to the steering wheel and angle the car deep enough to the curb so that it will go up and over yet shallow enough so that you don’t turn the car completely and lose the control in a spin.
So there you’ve it. While no one wishes to be caught up in the ugly situation where the brake fails, it is shrewd for one to be prepared for such eventuality and we do not choose the experiences that occur to us as human beings. And remember, safe driving will go a long way in helping you prepare for or prevent this situation.