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What to Do If Your Brakes Malfunction While Driving?

Published on Aug 29, 2019 at 1:34 pm in Car Accidents.

Close up of right side of car's tire

Lexington is full of charm and has plenty of scenic routes. Unfortunately, though, car crashes can still happen even in the most picturesque locations. In Kentucky, about 800 people die in car accidents each year, as reported by the Insurance Information Institute (III).

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), around 20% of car accidents are caused by brake-related problems. Whether your brakes need to be replaced or were faulty, you never expect them to completely fail and potentially cause a car collision. Brake failure can be deadly, so it’s important for you to know what actions to take if you find yourself in that situation.

What to Do When Your Brakes Fail

When your brakes unexpectedly stop working, there are steps you can take to safely slow down. Before doing anything, it’s important that you don’t panic. While this is a frightening situation, you need to keep your head clear so you can make informed decisions. Here is what to do if your brakes malfunction while driving:

  1. Try your brakes again. Sometimes brake systems malfunction on just one set of wheels. If the front wheels’ brakes fail, the back wheels’ brakes could still work. To be sure, try pressing the brakes again because they might still work when you put more pressure on the pedal. If you have regular brakes, you should pump the pedal three or four times to build up brake fluid pressure, and then the car might slow. If you have anti-lock brakes, you should press the pedal to the floor. The car will shake, but that means they are working.
  2. Try slowing with other methods. If the brakes don’t work when you try again, there are other options to slow down. Taking your foot off the gas pedal will help you start to reduce speed but will not slow you down as quickly as you need. If you’re in a manual car, you can downshift the gears in an attempt to slow down. In an automatic car, shift to neutral. In any car, you should slowly pull the emergency brake to ease to a stop. The tires will most likely start skidding.
  3. Don’t turn off the engine until you’re stopped. You might think turning off the engine will help slow down, but it doesn’t. When the engine is off, the power steering and airbags turn off as well, so you can’t steer and are less safe in the event of a crash.
  4. Safely move to the shoulder. Your instinct should be to get out of the road. If you are in the right lane, navigate to the shoulder so you are out of the way of traffic and are less likely to crash into other cars. The shoulder can also help you slow down if it is soft or has a curb. If you are in the left lane when your brakes go out, use the left shoulder if there is one, or try to move over to the right lane and then the right shoulder. No matter which lane you were in, only move the steering wheel slightly when driving to the shoulders to stay in control.
  5. Alert other drivers. Even though you can’t directly tell other drivers that your brakes aren’t working, you can alert them that something is wrong by turning on your hazard lights and honking your horn. This way, you draw their attention so that they can see you cannot slow down and they can attempt to move out of the way.
  6. Take your car to a mechanic. Since your brakes don’t work, you should not drive your car until they are fixed. You’ll have to call for a tow truck to take your car to a professional mechanic. There, you should get your car inspected and repaired.
  7. Find a lawyer. Depending on what caused your brakes to fail, you might not be legally responsible for any accident caused by failure to brake. At the scene, you should openly tell other people that your brakes stopped working and that you kept trying the brake and nothing happened.

Who to Contact

When your brakes failed and caused an accident, you’ll need a lawyer who won’t fail you. If your brakes suddenly and completely malfunctioned, you might not be liable for any damages you caused. Contact us at Golden Law Office today for a free consultation.

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