How to Avoid a Crash during a Brake Failure


A brake failure shouldn’t occur if you get your brakes inspected on a regular basis and keep up with the car maintenance schedule in your owner’s manual. However, even these measures aren’t an ironclad guaranty. Perhaps someday¬†while driving, your brakes will suddenly go soft. If the road ahead doesn’t have a stop light, stop sign, obstruction, or other reason for quickly stopping, then you’re in luck. That is, if you know how to stop your car without working brakes.

If this should happen, you can avoid a car crash by following these steps:

  1. Take your foot off the gas pedal. Applying gas will accelerate the car, which is the opposite of what you want to do. Not applying gas also allows wind and rolling resistance to slow your car a bit.
  2. Turn on your hazard lights. This warns other cars that you’re having a car problem. Use your horn to warn off cars that might pull out in front of you from a driveway or side road.
  3. Downshift into a lower gear. You can do this with both standard and automatic transmission cars. After the deceleration stops and the transmission quiets down, you can then shift into the next gear down. This will slow the car down further. Repeat this again through successive gears.
  4. Carefully move to the shoulder.
  5. At this point you’re on the shoulder in your lowest gear. Shift into neutral, and then very gently apply your parking brake. Applying it too hard will cause the wheels to lock up and you may lose¬†control of your car. If the tires start skidding, ease up on the parking brake a bit until the skidding stops. Continue applying the parking brake like this until your car stops.

Note: you may get some braking action by pumping your brakes (if they are standard brakes) or pushing on them firmly (if they are ABS).

If a motorist’s negligence injured you in a car crash, contact us at Hogan Injury for a free case evaluation.

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