What To Do if Your Brakes Fail – Parking Brake Use is Risky!

I’ve been triggered into writing this by an old post on the same topic that I’ve just seen and replied to, on the Allstate Safe Driving Blog.

By no means are all “safe driving” writers always accurate enough!

With no disrespect to Allstate or the writer of the piece, it was clearly written by someone with only a reasonable knowledge of the issue himself, despite having referenced various sources.  I say this because there were a couple of inclusions which are very questionable.

The first of these was about using the “emergency brake” — a highly inappropriate name for the parking brake — to help stop the vehicle, and my response to that point is shown in my reply to Allstate, below.  Having said that, a handbrake is a dramatically safer option that a foot-operated parking brake because, with the button held in, it can be applied much more accurately and released instantaneously without extra risk.

Photo: Some foot-operated parking brakes such as this one lock in the on position when pressed and have to be pressed a second time, and harder, to release them. (Photograph: Nissan)
Some foot-operated parking brakes such as this one (left) lock in the ‘on’ position when pressed and have to be pressed a second time, and harder, to release them. (Photograph: Nissan)

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What is it with the USA and Roundabouts? Wasting Time & Money, Reinventing a Wheel!

In surprise and great dismay, I nearly spat my mouthful of coffee all over my keyboard when I read the article More traffic experiments planned in Fayetteville a few minutes ago, from the Fayetteville Flyer.

Traffic circles, of a sort, were allegedly first built by the Romans in order to expedite chariot movements at busy intersections 2,000 years ago.  Some countries still use basic traffic circles and if you are an adrenalin junky, go to Paris and try driving on the one around the Arc de Triomphe when vehicles are flowing thick and fast!  However, what today are properly called “modern roundabouts” were invented half-a-century ago in 1960s Britain.
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Michelin and the FIA Get All 50 States to Standardize Tire Safety Advice in State Drivers’ Manuals, which is No Easy Task

From Car & Driver’s blog, excellent news that “…Michelin and the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile [FIA] (Foundation?) have secured commitments from all 50 U.S. states to include consistent tire-maintenance and safety information in their driver education programs.”

There are 51 booklets that can be thought of as state drivers’ manuals in the USA because, apart from the 50 actual states, DC has one, too.  And back in 2006 — dare I say “bravely!” — I read them all and then wrote a research paper on my findings.  It was published by the Society of Automotive Engineers [SAE] at their World Congress, in Detroit, in 2007.  (For the sake of perspective, I will add that to my surprise and great pleasure, my presentation of the paper to a technically very adept audience won me an SAE award for being judged to be in the top five percent of the hundreds of papers presented by their authors at the multi-day event.)

Photo of a Michelin tire
A Michelin Energy MXV4 S8 tire with very shallow tread depth (photo taken in a parking lot).  The image also clearly shows the manufacturing date of this tire:  The 0710 visible bottom left is the standard U.S. display of year (07) and week (10) that this particular batch of tires was made, and this is important to know so that you never unwittingly buy tires that are already too old.

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NTSB Safety Compass has not Published my Reply to their “Best Days of Their Lives” Blog, but it’s Important

One week ago, on July 10, 2017, the National Transportation Safety Board [NTSB] published their periodic “Safety Compass” blog.  The post in question was called “Best Days of Their Lives” and is very good, in relation to the safety of young drivers.

Photograph of two roadside memorials, on opposite sides of a rural road, and from two separate crashes.
Not one but two memorials for young people, from two separate crashes on either side of the road at this location in Illinois. Photo: Copyright 2012.

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