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Preventing a Car Accident When Your Brakes Fail

Your car’s brakes are one of the most basic ways of preventing an accident. Brakes allow you to stop suddenly in order to avoid hitting a pedestrian or an obstacle, and they can help you stop safely at intersections in order to prevent collisions and pedestrian accidents. When your brakes fail, therefore, it can be a terrifying moment. However, even if your brakes fail you can often help prevent an accident if you:

1) Pump your brakes. Pump your brakes vigorously, as this may build up pressure in the braking system which may allow your car to stop or even slow down. As you do this, you may wish to flash your lights or beep the horn to indicate that you are in distress and to alert other drivers as well as pedestrians that there is a problem.

2) Steer your car normally. Be careful not to overcorrect as you drive. It is common to panic when your brakes fail. If you have to turn, especially, you may panic. However, you can often turn even at a higher speed quite safely. Steer evenly, even if the rear of your car slips a little. You should still be able to make a safe turn.

3) Try shifting your car into a low gear. Gradually shift your car into the lowest gear possible. In some cases, this may allow the transmission and the engine to slow down your car.

4) Very slowly engage the emergency brake. Avoid engaging the brake too quickly, as this can cause your car to spin around as the rear wheels lock. Use a gentle, constant pressure. In many vehicles, the emergency brake is operated on a cable that will still work when other components of the braking system have failed. If you use the emergency brake in conjunction with a lower gear you may eventually be able to stop your vehicle.

5) If you need to stop suddenly and your brakes have failed, try engaging the emergency brake hard while also turning your wheel a quarter turn in whatever direction is safer. This maneuver will make your car spin but if you are heading downhill this maneuver may make you up hill, allowing your vehicle to stop safely.

6) Use a soft surface to stop. If you have a road all to yourself, you can move your car back and forth across the road. Swiping soft surfaces, rocks, or even guard rails on either side can reduce your speed, although you should only attempt this at slower speeds.


Once you have stopped the vehicle, make sure that you get help immediately. Have your vehicle thoroughly inspected and engage the services of a personal injury attorney. In many cases, brake failure is grounds for product liability lawsuit against the manufacture of your car. You want to make sure that other drivers with the same model are made aware of any brake defect.