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March 11, 2010


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Chris Hsu

Couldn't agree more Jim! One of the things they teach in better driving schools (Young Drivers) is what to do in an emergency situation. Shift into neutral, four ways on, and smoothly steer over to the far right side of the road / shoulder. Still remember doing this in my instructors Dodge Omni. I know I'm preaching to the converted here, but I really wish this type of training was mandatory.


The cop told the prius driver to put it in Neutral, the driver wouldn't, he was afraid he would flip the car. Unbelievable.


I took a private pilot's licence many years ago. One of the drills was an emergency landing. At any point the instructor would flick the engine off and say "Your engine just quit. What are you going to do now?" In addition to the runaway revving engine, this situation should also be taught to drivers. It could be as simple as running out of gas. I understand your reticence to tell people to shut off the engine, but this can easily happen for a number of reasons and a competent driver should be able to handle it routinely. Yes, the steering will require more effort. No, braking effort will not increase due to the stored vacuum in the brake booster (at least for several stops).

The brakes are not incapable of stopping a car on a tear. They are, however, incapable of controlling the speed of a full throttle vehicle for more than a few seconds. It takes about 3 seconds to make a normal full effort stop from highway speed. A car's brakes are capable of several of these in quick succession. If the car is in gear and at full throttle, the stop will take several times longer and the amount of energy will be several times that of a single stop. The likelihood of very hot brakes and fade are significant under these conditions. Perhaps the Star (i.e. Jim Kenzie) could do a simulation of this event. Drive at 120 km/hr. Plant your foot on the floor (full throttle). Say "Oh dear, the car is running away". With your right foot still on the accelerator, apply full brake with your left. Tell us what happens. Any statement about whether the brakes should or should not stop the car under these conditions unless this test is done is speculative opinion. After completing the test, you may express an opinion as to whether a driver with average skills and training ("inadequate") could complete this manoeuvre with still-clean undergarments.

I suspect that many of the drivers who are experiencing this problem may be trying to simply slow down the car, that is to control its speed, rather than stopping it rapidly. The longer they take to stop, the more energy will need to be absorbed by the brakes. The result will shortly be the hot brake smell that is familiar to you, but not to most, and therafter smoke and fade. You could try to simulate this too, but I don't think it would be wise.

I have experienced WOT condition at least once while driving. This was on a carburetted vehicle with standard transmission. The cause was a broken return spring on the throttle lever. This only required releasing the clutch and shifting to neutral, then switching off the engine. Regarding locking of the steering, no vehicle I am aware of will lock without completely removing the key. In most cases with automatic transmission, you must also shift to "park" to activate steering locking. Where this goes with these idiotic pushbutton devices I do not know. I will add this to the list of my "do not purchase" list. (This currently includes RED rear turn signals, and foot operated emergency brakes - both for safety reasons). I would have the Ford idiotic shift quadrant arrangement on the list but the detent is very easily filed off to give proper operation between neutral and drive.

B Preston

These are all things that you learn in driving school. I believe that driving school should be mandatory so things like this don't happen.

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