If you find yourself in an emergency situation with a runaway car on your hands, you are going to need to stop it quickly. If you don’t know how to do this before disaster strikes, then when the time comes you may not be able to stop the car or, even worse, you could cause serious injury to yourself by attempting a dangerous maneuver.
How to Stop a Runaway Car
Step 1: Don’t panic. As in any dire situation, losing your cool inevitably makes whatever you are dealing with infinitely worse. If you stay calm, you’ll be much more likely to remember the following steps and you’ll be able to react smartly to whatever you are facing on the road.
Step 2: Apply the brakes. If your car will not stop accelerating or it is accelerating out of your control, then press down the brake pedal to stop the vehicle. Be sure that you are not pumping the brakes, which will not be as effective as pressing the brake solidly.
Hopefully, the car should slow down and begin to come to a stop by applying the brakes in this way. If not, one common cause may be that the floor mats are sticking to the gas pedal, causing the car to accelerate out of control. Try to dislodge the floor mat from the pedal with your foot if it is stuck, but don’t take your eye off the road at the same time in order to do so.
Step 3: Shift the car into Neutral. If the brakes are not working or if the accelerator is stuck, then shift the car into Neutral.
This takes the engine out of acceleration mode, effectively allowing the natural friction of the road to slow the vehicle down. You’ll notice that by shifting into Neutral the engine will seem much louder. This is expected to happen, and you may have noticed this if you have ever accidentally bumped the stick into neutral while driving.
You may end up causing some engine damage by shifting into Neutral, but this is a welcome trade for coming to a safe stop.
Step 4: Steer the car to a safe location. While you may not have much control over the vehicle, do what you can to steer away from dangerously crowded areas or traffic-laden locales.
Make sure that your hazard lights are on and other drivers know that something is wrong. This way, you can minimize damage to other vehicles and people as well.
Step 5: Park the car. Once you have made it to a total stop, turn off the car and shift it into Park. It is very important here that you do not try to drive the vehicle anymore until you get the car looked at by a professional.
Step 6: Check the damage and call for help. Determine any damage you have caused to passengers in your car or others on the road and get help immediately.
Call 911 for any accidents or serious injuries. If no one is hurt and there has not been any contact with other vehicles, then call a towing company to take the car to the shop to have it checked out. Don’t drive the vehicle again until the problem is resolved.