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Wed Feb 13, 2013, 09:39 PM

French driver trapped for an hour in speeding 125mph car with no brakes-survives intact!

When Frank Lecerf drove off to do his weekly supermarket shop in northern France, he was not expecting to embark on a high-speed car chase that would force him over the Belgian border and on to the national news bulletins.

Lecerf has filed a legal complaint after his Renault Laguna, which is adapted for disabled drivers, jammed at 200km/h (125mph) and the brakes failed, forcing him to continue careering along a vast stretch of French motorway and into Belgium. Police gave chase until he ran out of petrol and crashed into a ditch.

The 36 year old was on a dual carriageway on his way to a hypermarket when the car's speed first jammed at 60mph. Each time he tried to brake, the car accelerated, eventually reaching 125mph and sticking there.

more
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/feb/13/french-driver-200kmh-car-chase?CMP=SOCNETTXT6966

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Reply French driver trapped for an hour in speeding 125mph car with no brakes-survives intact! (Original post)
n2doc Feb 2013 OP
Happyhippychick Feb 2013 #1
Duer 157099 Feb 2013 #2
JDPriestly Feb 2013 #27
hollysmom Feb 2013 #3
shraby Feb 2013 #4
hollysmom Feb 2013 #5
A HERETIC I AM Feb 2013 #23
leveymg Feb 2013 #28
robinlynne Feb 2013 #9
malaise Feb 2013 #20
hollysmom Feb 2013 #29
pediatricmedic Feb 2013 #6
robinlynne Feb 2013 #10
A HERETIC I AM Feb 2013 #22
robinlynne Feb 2013 #25
A HERETIC I AM Feb 2013 #31
WCGreen Feb 2013 #26
pediatricmedic Feb 2013 #33
SheilaT Feb 2013 #7
pansypoo53219 Feb 2013 #8
magical thyme Feb 2013 #11
RedCappedBandit Feb 2013 #12
guardian Feb 2013 #13
Union Scribe Feb 2013 #14
guardian Feb 2013 #15
Union Scribe Feb 2013 #16
guardian Feb 2013 #17
muriel_volestrangler Feb 2013 #19
Retrograde Feb 2013 #34
Hassin Bin Sober Feb 2013 #36
MadHound Feb 2013 #18
dixiegrrrrl Feb 2013 #35
Are_grits_groceries Feb 2013 #21
A HERETIC I AM Feb 2013 #24
Xithras Feb 2013 #30
rjdem1977_gg Feb 2013 #32
MineralMan Feb 2013 #37

Response to n2doc (Original post)

Wed Feb 13, 2013, 09:42 PM

1. Mon dieu!

Lucky guy.

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Wed Feb 13, 2013, 09:43 PM

2. Well there's the problem

He was on his way to a hypermarket.

Next time, go to the Stop N Go.

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Response to Duer 157099 (Reply #2)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 11:27 AM

27. Thanks. I needed that. Caused me to laugh out loud.

But I'm really sorry for the man trapped in the car. He must have been terrified -- along with everyone in the cars he passed.

But it speaks well for the French that he did not end his trip in a crash.

How could this have happened?

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Wed Feb 13, 2013, 09:45 PM

3. stories like this always confuse me -

pull up the gas pedal, use the hand brake, put the car in neutral going up hill, turn off the motor?!?! why?

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Response to hollysmom (Reply #3)

Wed Feb 13, 2013, 09:51 PM

4. I would not turn off the motor..that might lock up the steering.

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Response to shraby (Reply #4)

Wed Feb 13, 2013, 10:21 PM

5. know your car - it depends on your car

But seriously - no neutral - like he never went up hill?

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Response to shraby (Reply #4)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 07:07 AM

23. The steering will NOT lock up if you simply turn the key to the off position.

That's not how steering wheel locks are designed.

It will possibly get stiffer if it is power steering, but the column won't lock up until you remove the key.

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Response to A HERETIC I AM (Reply #23)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 12:00 PM

28. At 200 kph one does not need power steering, but vacuum for the brake booster might be welcome.

Really, I've never been able to fathom why some drivers don't have sufficient training or common technical sense to know to turn off the ignition switch if the throttle jams open. Then, there's the clutch pedal or neutral gear - but that might be too much for some to grasp.

It's happened to me several times, but only in cars, motorcycles, and go-carts I built myself.

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Response to hollysmom (Reply #3)

Wed Feb 13, 2013, 10:57 PM

9. I would panic and not be able to figure that out at 125mph. He was disabled. specially made car.

not a regular car.

pull up the gas pedal?

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Response to hollysmom (Reply #3)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 06:59 AM

20. Did you miss this part

his Renault Laguna, which is adapted for disabled drivers

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Response to malaise (Reply #20)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 12:16 PM

29. yes I did.

sometimes I read too fast and it all does not sink in.
I still have to wonder about neutral and up hill. I had an engine problem with my car and did that - not stuck running, but scary sound that made me want to get the engine off asap.

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Wed Feb 13, 2013, 10:25 PM

6. How are the controls adapted for a disabled driver?

Most cars you can put into neutral and turn off the motor. I am guessing the controls were configured in such a way that he could not do this?

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Response to pediatricmedic (Reply #6)

Wed Feb 13, 2013, 11:00 PM

10. I am so glad to have read this Op.I had no idea putting the car into neutral is what you do if a car

accelerates too much. hope I remember this if it ever happens.
I actually thought neutral was only for manual cars. Never even noticed American cars have neutral.

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Response to robinlynne (Reply #10)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 07:04 AM

22. ?!?

"Never even noticed American cars have neutral."

Seriously?


Wow.


The American Driver Education system at its finest.

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Response to A HERETIC I AM (Reply #22)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 11:18 AM

25. no need to call me stupid.

I lived in anther country for 20 years where I drove a stock shift.
here you just put the car in drive or reverse.

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Response to robinlynne (Reply #25)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 12:41 PM

31. Ma'am, I did NOT call you "Stupid"

Quite the contrary.

If anyone deserves to be called stupid it is the people who were charged with teaching you how to drive and about cars.

I blame THEM, not you.

As I said, The American Driver Education system at its finest.

If you were taught how to drive in a country other than the USA, then I blame THOSE instructors for your ignorance.

And saying you are ignorant is also NOT calling you stupid. It simply means you don't know. It doesn't mean you are incapable of learning.

And just so you are aware, your automatic transmission car actually has two neutral positions;

Park and Neutral. The only difference between them is Park engages a "Pawl" inside the transmission to lock everything in place so that it can not be turned by the drive wheels.

One more thing;

Next time you get in your car, look at the shifter or the transmission position indicators on your dash. You will see the following letters:

P

R

N

D

2

1


Or something very similar.

Park, Reverse, NEUTRAL, Drive, Second, First.

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Response to robinlynne (Reply #10)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 11:23 AM

26. When I was 15, the accelerator of my aunt's car stuck

I quickly jammed her car into neutral and told her to brake.

I just reacted, had no idea what I was doing, just on instinct and I wasn't even driving then.

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Response to WCGreen (Reply #26)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 01:49 PM

33. I had a similar experience with a malfunctioning cruise control

Good job with your aunt btw.

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Wed Feb 13, 2013, 10:38 PM

7. My first thought was,

could it not be turned off? But yeah, he might really lose control. But, no matter how it was adapted, surely he could have put it into a lower gear, or did it ONLY have a "Drive" mode, which strikes me as idiotic.

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Wed Feb 13, 2013, 10:47 PM

8. adapted? he may have had limited use of his legs or something.

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Wed Feb 13, 2013, 11:06 PM

11. omg, the poor guy had 2 epileptic seizures during his ordeal!

Like it wasn't enough hanging on for dear life while your car is running away!

That's why I hate and fear these newfangled computerized cars. He was able to call the police and he had the renault customer support people on his phone and they weren't able to help him either.

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Wed Feb 13, 2013, 11:12 PM

12. Thankfully he's alright, but seriously..

I am always amazed that people don't understand their vehicles. Pop it into neutral!

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 12:17 AM

13. what a dipshit

 

This happened to me when I was sixteen and driving on a learner's permit. I had floored the accelerator to pass a slow moving truck going up a hill. The throttle stuck. Braking didn't work as the engine overpowered the brakes. I dug my toe under the accelerator pedal to no avail. In just a few seconds I was doing about 95 (old 71 Chevy Impala with v8 4 barrel carb 400 engine). So I turned off the ignition. Yeah I lost power steering and power brakes but slowed down, pulled off to the side of the road. I opened the hood and tugged on the throttle cable and was back to normal.

If a sixteen year old could figure this out you'd think a 36 year old could.

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Response to guardian (Reply #13)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 12:22 AM

14. The car was adapted for a disability

The article doesn't specify, but it may not have used pedals as usual. There was also a Renault engineer on the phone with him, so I'd hope that if the solution were that simple one of the many people talking to him could have figured that out.

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Response to Union Scribe (Reply #14)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 12:28 AM

15. so cars adapted for a disability

 

do not have a way to turn off the engine? What to you do when you arrive at your destination?

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Response to guardian (Reply #15)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 12:31 AM

16. Dunno about that car, but when I turn off my engine

my steering column locks. Probably not optimal while weaving through traffic going half his speed.

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Response to Union Scribe (Reply #16)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 12:39 AM

17. turn it to the accessory position

 

not all the way off

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Response to guardian (Reply #17)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 06:53 AM

19. The point about the engineer and the police being on the phone is important

I find it very unlikely that, between them, none of them suggested all the solutions that we've come up with quickly. There are keyless cars, such as this one:

The Laguna featured a 'keyless' ignition system which, instead of a key, used a credit card style device to unlock the car and start the engine.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renault_Laguna


The 'put it into neutral' solution would sound good to me, but it may be there's some computerised locking system that prevented that.

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Reply #19)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 02:37 PM

34. A proximity key?

I bought one last year that only requires a key within a certain proximity to unlock the door and start the engine (there's a regular key as well - these new-fangled gadgets don't always work after they've been through the wash). There are supposedly manual overrides for everything, but I don't think I'd like to try them under emergency conditions for the first time.

I had the brakes go out once in a much older and simpler car, thankfully with a manual shift so I could get some breaking from the engine. Between that and judicious use of the hand break I was able to get it to a mechanic, but it was scary.

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Response to Retrograde (Reply #34)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 02:44 PM

36. We just purchased a Ford Focus with a push button start and proximity key system.

I don't even know if there is a back-up key system - I don't drive it every day. It's my partner's car.

The thing I have noticed, and it bothers me, there is no key holes for a back up key (if it exists) to open the doors.

A wise man once said:

The more they over think the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain.

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 12:44 AM

18. For all of you giving this guy a hard time for not shifting into neutral,

 

Did you ever think he might have tried that, and it didn't work? After all, he did have a Renault tech on the phone with him.

You're assuming modern cars are like older cars, with a direct, physical linkage. That is not the case anymore. Gear shifters aren't connected, physically, to the transmission. They are essentially a switch that is run through the car's computer. If the computer was out of whack enough to be accelerating the car when you touched the brakes, then it is quite likely it was screwed up enough to not be responding to a switch telling it to shift into neutral.

As far as switching the car off, it is one thing to do that at even sixty, you can still muscle it around and you still have a lot of room for error. Steering at high speeds is an entirely different animal, and if you are off by just a wee bit, you're crashing and burning.

The guy did the right thing, get a police escort and just fly like a bat out of hell until the gas runs out.

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Response to MadHound (Reply #18)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 02:31 PM

35. "Gear shifters aren't connected, physically, to the transmission. "

I honestly had no idea.
My car is a 1993 Toyota 5 speed stickshift.
I have always driven sticks, prefer them greatly.

In the event I have to get another car, do you know what year they stopped direclty connecting gear shifts to the transmission?

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 07:00 AM

21. What to do if your car loses its brakes: (do not shift to neutral)

10 Steps to Safety
The National Safety Council recommends the following steps if your brakes suddenly fail:

1. Downshift immediately

Putting the car in a lower gear allows the engine to slow the car, and may give you enough time to be able to safely pull over. Whether you're driving an automatic or a manual, try to downshift smoothly through the gears. If you downshift too quickly, you risk a skid. Do not shut off the car to stop it, as you'll lose your power steering, and do not put the car in neutral or you will lose the engine braking effect.

2. Try the emergency brake, but don't depend on it to stop you

If you're driving a car with a good, strong emergency brake, go ahead and use it. In cars with manual transmissions, the emergency brake is often operated via a hand-activated lever located behind the shifter, while in many automatics you use a small pedal located on the far left of the driver. It helps to try your emergency brake out at slow speeds to see how much stopping power it really has.

3. Work your vehicle into the right lane as soon as you can

Move toward the right shoulder of the road, or, if possible, toward an exit. If it is necessary to change lanes, do so smoothly and carefully, watching your mirrors and the traffic around you closely.

4. Stay off the gas pedal

Perhaps this goes without saying, but do not touch the gas pedal. Your goal, right now, is to slow down, pull over and safely stop.

5. Check for brake pedal blockage

Believe it or not, debris such as as soda cans or bottles, coffee cups, rolls of paper towels and other items bouncing around in the cockpit can wedge behind your brake pedal, preventing its use. Make sure the pedal's path is clear and if not, kick the obstruction out of the way.

6. Pump your brakes only if you have an older car without anti-lock brakes (ABS)

If your car has standard brakes they may respond to pumping, which could build up enough hydraulic pressure to allow them to work again. But many newer cars with ABS will do the pumping for you, so you should firmly press the brake pedal even if the brakes are not working. The brake failure may be temporary and if they suddenly start working again, your foot will be where it needs to be.

7. Alert others

Turn on your hazards and honk your horn until you're stopped so other motorists will know to give you plenty of room.

8. If you must hit something, aim for something "soft"

This is a judgment call, but a wooden fence is better than a tree, for example -- and anything is preferable to hitting a human being.

9. Stay calm

Knowing the steps outlined in this article and being able to perform them should give you the confidence to respond naturally instead of panicking, in the unlikely event that your brakes do fail.

10. Once you're safely stopped, summon help

Don't be tempted to drive the car again, even if the brakes suddenly start working. Have the car towed to a repair shop or dealer for inspection and repair.
http://autos.aol.com/article/what-to-do-if-your-brakes-fail/

FYI: Engine braking
Engine braking is the engine’s ability to slow the car when the transmission is in a low gear.

When you take your foot off the accelerator, decreasing the flow of fuel, the engine’s speed slows. Logically, the vehicle slows along with it, but the amount and rate of deceleration depends on what gear the transmission is in. The lower the gear, the greater the engine braking.

The concept of engine braking is much clearer to people who have driven with manual transmissions. Automatic transmissions tend to stay in their highest possible gears as the engine coasts or is braked to a stop, so the concept may not be familiar to folks who drive automatics. Drivers of automatic transmissions can take advantage of engine braking by shifting from 4 to 3 or lower on the gear selector of a four-speed transmission, or from 5 (or D5) to the next lower position with a five-speed automatic. On some vehicles, you achieve the same by turning off overdrive by means of a button, typically marked “O/D,” on the floor-mounted shifter or at the end of a steering-column-mounted gear selector lever.

The main reason you’d want to employ engine braking is to descend a steep hill. In such a situation, riding the brakes might overheat them and cause them to fade, possibly with disastrous consequences. That said, downshifting by too much for your current speed can be damaging or dangerous as well, so be sure to read your owner’s manual to find out the maximum speed at which you can run in lower gears or with overdrive turned off.
http://ask.cars.com/2008/06/what-is-engine.html

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Response to Are_grits_groceries (Reply #21)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 07:14 AM

24. That's all well and good as long as your throttle isn't stuck wide open.

In fact, none of that applies to a stuck throttle situation. Downshifting might not even be possible, and even if it is, all it will do is over-speed the engine or just dramatically increase the RPM's.

Put it in neutral, shut it off and get it over to the side.

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Response to Are_grits_groceries (Reply #21)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 12:26 PM

30. That is for brake failures ONLY. NOT a runaway throttle. Neutral is the fix for a runaway.

Downshifting with a runaway throttle WILL have the advantage of limiting your top speed to something below 40MPH, but shifting to neutral pulls all power from the drive wheels and allows gravity and friction (or your brakes) to stop the car.

Engine braking, as described in your post, ONLY works if there is no power being applied by the engine. That wouldn't have helped this guy in the least.

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 12:52 PM

32. Whoa

 

This guy got lucky. Most people would have died crashing at that speed.

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 02:57 PM

37. Turn this, dude!


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