Wednesday, September 30, 2009

If The Accelerator Pedal Sticks

I just listened to a DVR of CNN I recorded today where a man in a Lexus is traveling 120 mph because his accelerator pedal was stuck and you can hear where he and his family members all died on the 911 cell phone call he made as they died.

When I was 16 and bought my first car in 1964, a 1956 Ford Stationwagon automatic, that I called my "surf wagon" and I was test driving it on the Glendale Freeway in California the same thing happened to me. The Accelerator pedal got stuck in the carpeting and the car soon went from 60 to 90 mph and beyond and I couldn't go that fast on a curve and I started to panic because I was a relatively new driver when my brakes did nothing at that speed. My friend was a year older and had a street racer a 1956 Chevy with slicks for racing. Luckily, he was sitting next to me during the test drive and knew to turn off the key on the car to slow us down. We almost crashed into the wall on the curve but through squealing the tires we managed to stay on the road and not die, crash or get injured. Ever since then if I was in the car when the accelerator pedal stuck for any reason this is what I did.

The problem now with the way cars are made is that sometimes when you turn the ignition off the steering wheel can lock when you do this. So you will need a different strategy with cars with steering wheel locks tied into the ignition system.
Please do the following:

Put your car into neutral.(don't get excited and put it into reverse by accident because you likely might die of you do this). Just quickly into neutral. Or if your car is a stick shift simply push the clutch in and hold it until you get the car into neutral or stop it whichever comes first. Don't worry about the car red lining or the engine blowing up or dying. Your life and your passenger's lives are more important than the life of your car engine. After you stop then worry about turning off the engine. So, remember don't turn off the engine until the car stops because likely if your cars was made after the 1970s the steering wheel could lock up and cause an accident another way.

You don't have to die like the family with the Lexus did. If you just know a few tricks like this it could save your lives one day. Another one is to carry a device in your glovebox that shatters a window if you go into water. But don't shatter the window until you take off your seatbelt first or likely you will drown. There is very little time to save yourself then too. So always be prepared. It's how to survive anything.

So if your car is still drivable after the accelerator pedal getting stuck, first remove your driver side floor mat. And then go wherever you were going in the first place. Because if you didn't die and your engine still works, like my Dad used to say, "A miss is as good as a mile". Which just basically means "If you didn't die just go on living like nothing happened." (except be sure to learn from whatever just happened so you don't die the next time for the same reason!)

So, good luck with all this. Also, when your engine is off, especially if you have a Toyota product (Lexus is Toyota by the way) take your hand and try to push your accelerator pedal to make it stick to the floor. If it sticks under ANY circumstances pull out your floor mat and/or take your car to a mechanic to modify it so it is safe!

If you are totally not mechanical in any way and you are scared I suppose you could call a mechanic or someone mechanical to come to you. However, for those used to thinking mechanically and methodically, if you analyze the situation for flaws to safety likely you will be okay. But unless you are used to fixing and building things you might want to call someone who thinks like this to check it out for you.

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