It is a sad world we live in when a man of more than 60 years of age thinks putting a car into Neutral could cause it to flip. It is no wonder that car crashes are so frequent — we have become a society of drivers who don’t really know how to drive.
Driving has become like having a website on the Internet — we’ve made it so simple and removed so many barriers to entry that anyone can do it. DanOCan.com is a perfect example: I was able to get this site up and running within a couple of hours and I don’t need to know a lick of HTML to make it happen. And, just as real web designers would look at this site and laugh, I too do the same with drivers like Mr. Sikes.
Driving is very simple now. Get in, put it in Drive and go. The tall skinny pedal makes it go, the wide pedal makes it stop. Everything else is just optional it seems.
It seems we don’t put enough effort into learning to drive. A runaway car is something people should learn how to deal with since it can happen to any car, not just Toyotas. I know because it happened to me in my 1975 AMC Hornet when the throttle cable became caught on the firewall and I started to accelerate. The first thing I did was smash the accelerator to the floor in an effort to unstick it. When that failed, I shifted to Neutral to stop the acceleration and then turned the car off. Now, before you jump on me about killing my power steering and brakes by turning off the engine, keep in mind this was a 1975 car — I had no power brakes to worry about. I was able to pull over and stop without incident.
How many times do you see this situation. Someone pulls into an intersection to make a left turn. While waiting for oncoming to traffic to clear he/she turns the wheels of the car as if they are ready to make the turn? What’s the big deal? Well, if someone rear ends you, even at a low speed, and you’ve got your wheels turned into oncoming traffic guess where your car is going to go? Yep, right into oncoming traffic. Suddenly a simple fender bender becomes a major issue. Keep the wheels straight and you increase your odds of not ending up in the oncoming lanes.
When you are stopped at a red light are you watching behind you to make sure the driver behind you is paying attention? What about if there is an emergency vehicle approaching? Do you know where your escape route is? Did you leave enough space between you and the car in front of you so that there is room to maneuver your car out of the way?
Have you ever taken your vehicle into an empty parking lot in the winter and practiced skids or other extreme steering? If not, how will you know how your car handles when the time comes to do it on the road? The first time you lose control of your car should be under controlled circumstanes.
The key to survival is preparation. Think about what you need to do long before the situation arises. In a crisis you will instinctively revert to your training so you better hope you have some. And, please remember that putting your car in Neutral will not cause it to flip over.