Thursday, November 05, 2009

Staying cool . . .

. . . can save your life.

But panic can kill you.

On 16 SEP, a highway patrolman, his wife, daughter and brother-in-law were killed in a crash because the accelerator pedal on the loner toyota they were driving stuck down.

Actully, the stuck accelerator didn't kill them, the panic did.

If your accelerator pedal stuck, what would you do?

1) Jam on the brakes?
2) Turn off the ignition?
3) Put it in neutral?

If you chose 1 or 2, you're likely dead. Here's why.

1) Wrong! If you jam on the brakes, they probably won't be able to hold against the engine, and will burn out. Then, you have a stuck accelerator AND no brakes.

2) Wrong! That will kill the engine, but most cars today (in the US at least) have that theft-defeating steering wheel lock. Now, you have a stuck accelerator AND no steering.

3) Right! That may blow up the engine, but at least you're not accelerating, and you DO have brakes and steering.

The 911 call is really disturbing to me for two reasons. First, the guy in the car taking way too long to describe the situation. That's understandable because he's in dire stress. Second, the 911 operator has no sense of urgency. What bearing does "where are you?" have on the emergency? Instead of saying "Can't you turn it off?" he needed to say "PUT IT IN NEUTRAL!"

I know that's second guessing, and I wasn't there. But every driver and every 911 operator should be trained on this situation.