Know What to Do in the Case of Brake Failure

July 4, 2014

WTSP 10 News reports that a Cadillac Fleetwood, with inoperable brakes, crashed into multiple vehicles on June 21 in Pinellas Park.

A 30-year-old female was driving the Fleetwood westbound on Park Boulevard. As she approached the intersection at Belcher Road, she attempted to brake at the red light, but her brakes were not working. The Fleetwood plowed into seven vehicles that were stopped at the intersection.

What Should You Do If Your Brakes Fail?

Although this crash is still under investigation, this story is a reminder that brake failures can and do happen, and often unexpectedly.

Always perform routine maintenance on your brakes to prevent such catastrophic failures.

However, if you are driving your car when the brakes fail, AOL Autos says that the National Safety Council (NSC) recommends 10 steps:

  • Immediately downshift. A lower gear allows the engine to start slowing the vehicle.
  • Use the emergency brake. Depending if you are driving a manual or automatic, the emergency brake is either behind the shifter (manual) or a small pedal to the far left of the driver (automatic).
  • Move your vehicle to the right lane as soon as you can.
  • Do not use the gas pedal.
  • Check for anything that might be blocking the pedal from depressing. Objects can get wedged behind the pedals sometimes.
  • If you have a newer car, do not pump the brakes, the anti-lock brakes (ABS) will make sure there is enough hydraulic pressure traveling to the brakes. Older cars may require you to pump the brakes to build up pressure.
  • Warn others. Turn on your hazards, and honk your horn until you are stopped.
  • If you must hit something to stop, crash into a “soft” object. The goal is to try to crash into something that could safely slow your vehicle down without causing you any serious injury.
  • Stay calm.
  • Get help as soon as you are able to stop your vehicle. Do not try to drive the vehicle until it has been repaired.


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