Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Cold Case - 60 Minutes & Sudden Acceleration

Update on Rathergate - Bummer Dietz and I have a play by play account of recent developments on his blog. Be sure to check there for updates. However, in the spirit of Chicago’s own favorite color announcer, Steve Stone, I’ll do something here “for all you little leaguers out there”. If “sudden acceleration” is a hoax, what should you do if you find your car accelerating unexpectedly? Keep these two thoughts in mind.

Back in kindergarten you learned that if you turned something on and it did something crazy you should turn it back off. In a factory you’d hit the stop button. Do exactly the same in your car, turn off the key. Don’t just take my word, try it. Find a stretch of road with no other traffic and while driving along turn off the key. The car will coast to a stop. You’ll find the brakes still work (though you should not pump them). Simple!

The other thing you need to know is that your brakes are much stronger than the engine and are applied at all four wheels, where the engine generally drives only two wheels. As Car & Driver magazine demonstrated by actual testing, if you drive along at full throttle up to speed (say 55 mph) and then apply the brakes the car will stop. So if you find yourself in a circumstance where the car is accelerating while you’re sure your foot is on the brake, lift your foot off the brake pedal. It cannot do any harm if you really are on the brake, as you have suffered a catastrophic loss of braking power. The only chance to restore that power is to pump the brakes. But almost certainly you’ve got your foot on the gas. As you lift off the pedal, the car will slow. This is confirmation of driver error. Move your foot onto the brake pedal. Once again, its simple.
P.S. We'll miss you Steve. Godspeed!

Update 2- Anybody out there starting to think that even Yoda is lining up against CBS? It took exactly 8 hours and 12 minutes for a civilian employee of the Chicago Police Department to crash into City Hall to demonstrate my point! Here is a quote taken from the Chicago Sun-Times story

“Bike messenger Jeremy Dutcher said he saw the car turn north off Washington onto La Salle.

"I saw his tires spin," Dutcher said. "I said, 'Whoa.' He hit the gas instead of the brakes, or something. He just kept going and slammed into the wall. I thought, 'It's a good thing I didn't take the sidewalk today.' "

The police car struck two light posts before hitting the building. Dutcher said it just missed several pedestrians on the sidewalk.”
Update 3 - Whoops, I should explain the Yoda crack. In his narration of Out of Control Ed Bradley said the Audi has a "dark side". Therefore it must be in league with Darth Vader! But the Force is with us!


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