Imagine driving along the highway, playing your favourite tunes, be they Nigerian or foreign, and nodding your head rhythmically. Your hands are fixated on the steering, your eyes on the road, and your mind on your destination. But then, as you approach traffic or perhaps a bump on the road, you press the brake pedal, but nothing works. You press it again, this time harder, still your car shows no sign of stopping.
Nobody would blame you if you started screaming. It’s actually a terrifying scenario and you wouldn’t have expected such a thing happening to you. After all, there is no driver that ever expects an accident when driving.
How often do brakes fail? Is it safe to downshift in an automatic car? Why do some hills improve your chance of surviving? In 2013, an elderly California driver’s Cadillac experienced brake failure. His car went speeding across a lawn, became airborne, and landed on a roof. Luckily, no one was hurt. So, if you’re driving and the brakes fail, what could you do to survive?
Step 1: Alert Everybody
As soon as you realize your brakes have failed, warn the drivers and pedestrians around you. So, switch on your hazard lights right away. And honk the horn to draw attention to the vehicle.
Step 2: Use Friction
Friction is the brakes’ best friend. Friction on the brake disc causes the car to slow. And even if the brakes aren’t working, friction can still help you. If the roads are clear, and you’re able to do this, start zigzagging the car. Use the friction of the tires on the road to help reduce speed. If that’s not enough, try driving over small plants and shrubs on the side of the road.
Step 3: Use the E-Brake
Vehicles have two braking systems. The primary system is the foot brake, and the secondary system is called the handbrake, emergency brake, or e-brake for short. The e-brake bypasses the hydraulic system. Instead, it uses a metal cable that connects to the rear brakes. If your main brakes fail, the e-brake should still work.
Step 4: Downshift
If the car has a manual transmission, slowly begin going down the gears. This is known as engine braking. You may have heard 18-wheelers doing this. The idea is to go to a lower gear at higher RPMs, or revolutions per minute. This creates more torque through the transmission, and a vacuum inside the manifold, that the pistons have to fight against. So, the power and speed will drop.
Step 5: Head for the Hills
If you’re still trying to slow down, look for a hill or any upward slope that can help you. It could be an on-ramp, a hilly street, or even a specially designed run off area.
Even a slight upward slope could provide the gravitational force you need to slow down to a complete stop.
Source: Punch News, What If Show