When the brakes fail, what do you do?

Jude: What you do when your brakes fail?

Thursday February 13 2014

Should your brakes  fail, experts advise us not

Should your brakes fail, experts advise us not to panic but be focused as we look for soft targets. FILE PHOTO  

Jude: What you do when your brakes fail?

Mustafa: That is one thing one doesn’t want to even think about. Maybe some of the newer cars have safety mechanisms that can mitigate some of these things. But the cars that most of us drive (run of the mill), it is a bad thing. What do you do, apart from screaming?

Jude: Does screaming help?

Paul: In fact it is always advisable to remain calm.

Mustafa: It is easier said than done.

Jude: If you panic, you end up ramming into other cars.

Paul: I think being calm comes with practice or having talked about it, which is what we are doing now. You said a while ago that you don’t want to think about it but maybe thinking about it can prepare you in an unlikely event that it happens.

Mustafa: There have been scenarios when I am absent-minded and just in case I am going to hit the car in front of me I instinctively think about swerving the car to the other side. Personally, I am thinking of the clearest target, so in case my brakes fail that is what I would do. But that depends on the speed.

Jude: Something happened to me yesterday. I was rushing to work and realised I was just about to hit the bumper of the car in front of me, but good enough for me, I hit the brakes hard and in time and didn’t hit his bumper. Good enough he kept on increasing his speed, so this prevented me from hitting, not that I was intending to anyway.

Mustafa: I think this begs the question what would you have done in case he stopped? Or you can put it the other way what if your brakes had failed at that time?

Paul: I think your situation is more of error in judgment which requires braking in time but we are talking about mechanical brake failure. You step on the brakes and they don’t help you at all, they just fall flat with no response. The car keeps going.

Jude: I think because none of us has ever experienced this, it is a bit weird thinking about it, but still we need to prepare for the worst.

Paul: God forbid, in the unlikely event that it happens, remain calm and observe the traffic around you, in front, on the sides and behind. In the event that you cannot bring this vehicle to a stop, look at where to hit. It is important to try and pump the brakes maybe because the brake hose has failed try to rebuild this pressure manually. If it fails to stop try to shift down which is easier with a manual car.

Jude: You look for soft targets.

Mustafa: You can shift down with an automatic only that you may mess up the gearbox. From D move to three.

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