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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.
No one prays for such a thing to happen to them as such an incident has resulted in accidents leading to deaths or injuries, sometimes permanent injuries.
However, should you ever find yourself in such a situation, don’t be too panicky. The biggest mistake you can make is to accept that there is nothing you can do because really, there are several ways you can handle the situation successfully, and in the process save your life and those of others on the road.
So, if you’re driving and your brakes fail, experts advise that you take the following steps to survive.
Draw attention to your car
Peter Schmiedchen of Whatifshow.com says as soon as you realise that your brakes have failed, warn the drivers and pedestrians around you. Also turn on your hazard lights right away and honk the horn, perhaps repeatedly, to draw attention to your vehicle.
This way, people will see your hazard lights and know something is wrong. This can encourage them to get out of your way and clear a path for you. This can also help reduce the chance of hitting other vehicles.
Apply tyre friction
Friction is the brakes’ best friend, Schmiedchen says, adding that friction on the brake disc causes the car to slow. Even if the brakes aren’t working, experts say friction can still help you.
If the roads are clear, and you’re able to do this, start driving the car in a zigzag manner. The friction generated by the tyres on the road will help reduce speed.
Another thing you can do is to carefully drive against the guardrail. That will also help to reduce speed.
But if those tips are not enough, if possible, try driving over small plants and shrubs on the side of the road. Remember that it’s your life that you’re trying to save, not the car.
Apply the emergency brake
According to a Lagos-based automobile repairer, Moshood Bandele, vehicles have two braking systems – the primary and secondary systems. The primary system is the foot brake while the secondary system is called the handbrake or emergency brake, or e-brake for short.
Bandele explains that the emergency brake bypasses the hydraulic system and uses a metal cable that connects it to the rear brakes.
“If your main brakes fail, the emergency brake should still work, though it doesn’t have enough force to stop the car,” he says.
Experts say the emergency brake works best if you use it slowly and carefully. If you apply it too rapidly, the rear brakes could lock up and force you into an uncontrolled spin.
It goes without saying that you need to be aware of where your emergency brake is located. Some cars use a hand-activated lever, while others have a small pedal to the left of the gas and brake pedals.
It’s a good idea to try your emergency brake when you are driving at a slow speed to see how powerful it actually is. You can use an empty parking lot or other areas where there are no drivers and pedestrians around