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Safety & Accident

Safety Tip: When Brakes Fail

October 16, 2016

VIDEO: What to Do When Brakes Fail

Brake failure, whether caused by a manufacturing defect or a lapse in proper maintenance, is a rare but potentially life-threatening occurrence.

Last week a dump truck crashed into a motor home on a highway near Las Vegas, killing two people. The Nevada Highway Patrol reported that brake failure was likely the cause.

Here are some tips, provided by Esurance, on how to respond in the event of brake failure.

  1. Stay calm and slow down by laying off the gas pedal.
  2. Turn on your hazard lights to signal that something is wrong. You can use your horn too.
  3. Shift your vehicle into a lower gear to help slow down.
  4. Carefully work your way over to the shoulder. If you’re on a highway, you might also use an exit ramp. Remember, you want to get to a place where you can safely slow down, which in some cases may mean driving a little farther.
  5. If your vehicle has ABS (antilock brake system) brakes, brake firmly while you continue to steer. If your vehicle has standard brakes, try pumping them using short taps.
  6. When you’re slowing to a stop, try shifting into neutral and applying your emergency brake.
  7. Once you’ve successfully stopped your vehicle, don’t attempt to drive it. Call for help and have your vehicle towed to a mechanic.
  8. Don’t shut off the engine until you’ve come to a complete stop. Shutting the vehicle down will disable your power steering and make it hard (if not impossible) to maneuver.

To watch a video on the subject, which includes advice on how to use your environment to help slow down the vehicle, click on the illustration or link below the headline.

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The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is an independent, nonprofit, scientific, and educational organization that dedicates its efforts to reducing the losses, deaths, injuries, and property damage, from crashes on U.S. highways.

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