LOS ANGELES – As reports continue to surface about unintended acceleration in vehicles, the Automobile Club of Southern California is recommending that motorists read their vehicle owner’s manual and “think through” emergency scenarios so they can respond as safely as possible if they encounter an unexpected situation.
“Before driving any car, it’s important to know what you would do in the event of an emergency,” said Steve Mazor, manager of the Auto Club’s Automotive Research Center.“Read the owner’s manual, know where your emergency brake is and how to operate it, and also make sure you know how to put the car in neutral gear. These procedures differ by vehicle model.”
If motorists experience a stuck accelerator pedal while driving any vehicle, AAA recommends they do the following:
Stay calm, but act quickly.
Keep looking at the road ahead. Looking away from the road to see what’s wrong with the pedal will greatly increase the chances of a crash.
Be sure the foot is completely off the accelerator. Some stuck accelerator crashes have later been found to be the result of an honest mistake—the driver thought he or she was pushing on the brake. As soon as the driver is sure his foot is off the accelerator, he should brake firmly, applying strong, steady pressure. (Do not pump the brakes.)
Shift the vehicle’s transmission in neutral or, in a vehicle with standard transmission, depress the clutch. Do not turn off the engine until the car has decelerated significantly. Doing so will cause the power assist to steering and braking to disengage and make it difficult or impossible to steer, and harder to brake. Turning the key too far could possibly lock the steering wheel.
Steer the car to a safe place and stop, and then turn off the engine. If stopped by the side of a road, turn on emergency flashers and put out flares or reflective triangles. If unable to get the vehicle off the roadway, allow it to come to a stop and turn on emergency flashers. Do not restart the vehicle.
Mazor said that if drivers must turn off their vehicle to stop, they should be careful to turn the ignition just one click, rather than all the way to the off position, to avoid the risk of locking their steering columns.
Drivers of a runaway car can try calling 911 for assistance, but any activity inside the car that causes someone to take their eyes off the road increases the likelihood of a crash, Mazor warned.