Don't lose your cool

Share a survival experience with us and explain what you learned from it. You might help someone.

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Rustystud
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Don't lose your cool

Post by Rustystud » Mon Jan 18, 2021 2:54 am

I've been in two serious live and death situations involving vehicles that I believe can help others. The first one was a total brake failure in my 1954 Chevy truck. I was driving down hill when my brake line burst. For those who don't know, prior to 1967 all vehicle had only one brake system. Federal law required a dual brake system for all cars during the 1967 safety laws. That was also the time seat belts became mandatory. So my trusty 1954 had only a single brake system, so when that line burst due to rust I was without any brakes just my park brake which back then would barely hold your vehicle in place let alone stop it when rolling. The first thing I did was PRAY ! The second thing was turn towards to side of the road and ram my truck against the side of the road barrier. That eventually did stop me. The thing was I didn't allow fear to take control of my mind. Yes I was scared ! If I had any piss in me at the time I would have probably pissed my pants ! The point was I still kept thinking how to stop my truck. You cannot allow fear to control you. I've known people who stop and look like deer in the headlights when they become afraid. You need to stop thinking like that. How do you do that you ask. Well you need to get in a daily mindset that you can handle anything that comes your way. I will not let fear control me. Think about scenarios that can happen to you and how you would deal with it. Walking down the street you can imagine a thief running up and trying to grab a bag your carrying. What would you do ? Your driving down the freeway, now imagine that car ahead of you swerves over into your lane. What would you do ?
When I was in the Marines they taught me to think of scenarios and then think of ways to combat them.
Latter I was involved in another vehicle situation where I was in real danger of dying. I was stupid and crossed a road that
was flooding. It was in Phoenix AZ during the monsoon season and the "awuafreea" (cannot spell the correct word) river was flowing down from the Camelback mountains. I thought I could safely cross but the river was still cresting. Halfway across, a wall of water hit my truck and spun me sideways. The water came inside the truck and was washing up over my windshield. Instead of panicking I kepted my foot on the throttle and turning my wheels towards the bank I surged my way up and back. Each time I surged forward I moved a little towards the bank. At one point I was in the gravel and thought I was a goner. Again I prayed a lot !
Eventually I made it to the bank and drove out of the river area. Those on the side where watching me. One guy came over and told me he thought I was dead man. Four people did die that night. One was a police officer trying to rescue a woman and child from their car stuck further up the river from me.
The first thing to take away from this story is don't be stupid ! Don't try and cross a road with a flowing river in it ! The second is don't stop thinking. Don't let fear overtake you. If you keep your cool most times you can think of a way to escape your problem.
Rustystud.

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Re: Don't lose your cool

Post by emclean » Mon Jan 18, 2021 7:58 am

I have experienced 2 break failures when driving.
first time I half kept my wits about me. when the peddle hit the floor, I was able to pull into a parking lot, that ran parallel to the road. I stamp on the parking break, that will do the trick, but no it did nothing. then I slapped the car into park to get the transmission to stop the car. well that obviously failed, so next my brain said engine breaking, turn the car off. turning off a car with it in park locks the steering wheel. by then I was in panic mode, as I was out of parking lot. I crossed a 4 lane road with out hitting anything. the curbs I jumped slowed the car, and the building stopped me completely. as I was hyperventilating with a death grip on the steering wheel a cop knocked on my window.
apparently I had just missed his car sitting at the stop light. it was his first day on patrol alone. (I am sure I am one of his stories) it turned out that the breaks failed cause the pads had worn through, and so had the piston on the break caliper.
that one I panicked, but I was a 16 year old kid, so it isn't surprising.

the second time I was in my pick up truck with a buddy coming up to a stop light on a highway, the light turns red, and my foot goes to the floor. I slap the truck in to a lower gear, and ignore my buddy asking what the hell I was doing. I get it into 2nd still on the about empty highway, then pull into a parking lot. drop it into first, and pull into a parking spot. I quick stop in reverse and then into park. I pull out a smoke still ignoring my buddy's more insistent questions, and light up. only then do I tell him that we just lost the breaks.
the front drivers side caliper broke into 2 pieces.

experience is the difference I was in my early 20's and a paratrooper for the second one.

I really hope that there isn't a third.

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Re: Don't lose your cool

Post by tony d tiger » Mon Jan 18, 2021 2:14 pm

Rustystud wrote:
Mon Jan 18, 2021 2:54 am
I've been in two serious live and death situations involving vehicles that I believe can help others. The first one was a total brake failure in my 1954 Chevy truck. ...
You need to stop thinking like that. How do you do that you ask. Well you need to get in a daily mindset that you can handle anything that comes your way. I will not let fear control me. Think about scenarios that can happen to you and how you would deal with it. Walking down the street you can imagine a thief running up and trying to grab a bag your carrying. What would you do ? Your driving down the freeway, now imagine that car ahead of you swerves over into your lane. What would you do ?
When I was in the Marines they taught me to think of scenarios and then think of ways to combat them.
Latter I was involved in another vehicle situation where I was in real danger of dying. I was stupid and crossed a road that
was flooding....
If you keep your cool most times you can think of a way to escape your problem.
Rustystud.
Good advice on situational awareness (SA) and pre-planning courses of action; thanks for sharing those experiences.
There is a similar post here, that shows a guy walking away from an altercation... and the other guy runs up from behind and hits him in the head with a brick. Different sub-forum/different scenario - but the same core problem: complacency, and/or a lack of SA.

Stay alert, stay alive, Marine! :words:
Tony D Tiger

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Re: Don't lose your cool

Post by eugene » Mon Jan 18, 2021 5:27 pm

I had similar just a couple summers ago, tiny VW car cuts me off as they always do because little cars can't be behind a truck so they have to get in front. I hit the brakes and the pedal went to the floor and the brake light came on and the chime started dinging. I was able to downshift the transmission to get into low gear to allow engine braking and that got it slow enough that the little bit left in the brakes was enough to stop it. One of the hard lines had rusted through right on top of the frame by the rear of the front wheel where you can just see it below the inner fender. I'd guess the tire must have flung salt and crud there for years.

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Re: Don't lose your cool

Post by MacWa77ace » Mon Jan 18, 2021 6:05 pm

Rustystud wrote:
Mon Jan 18, 2021 2:54 am

When I was in the Marines they taught me to think of scenarios and then think of ways to combat them.
I call this technique 'visualization'. I use it all the time. I learned it from Arnold not the marines though. In ZS its more like the term WWYD, there are a bunch of 'make you think' threads on 'what would you do'.



For those not familiar... think of it like the technique for playing chess. If he moves here, then i move there, then he will move there, and so on, all before you touch a piece on the board.

I figure out what i need and buy most of my prep supplies based on this technique.
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Re: Don't lose your cool

Post by wamba » Sat May 22, 2021 12:42 pm

Good advice in here. It’s like I tell kids, “you can be afraid, it’s perfectly natural and healthy, just don’t give in to the fear. You have to keep thinking and working the problem.”
Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it, & you can bet they'll whine that nobody warned them.

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Re: Don't lose your cool

Post by Albert » Tue May 25, 2021 11:45 am

Those brake failure stories are cute, but nothing compared to mine. When I was 18 years old, I was coming home from a dance at the school I attended, driving my 1966 Pontiac Catalina (land yacht!). Note that it was a 1966, which predates the dual brake systems. As I pulled into the family driveway, and stepped on the brakes, the pedal went all the way to the floor with no braking at all. There, sitting 50 feet in front of me, was dad's brand new car! Talk about a high pucker factor situation. I jammed the emergency brake on, and veered off of the driveway into the front yard, following the premise of "aim for something cheap". I got it stopped, without hitting anything too valuable, but it taught me to always be prepared for the unexpected.

Meanwhile, my cousin was driving the farm's mid-1960s 5-ton dump-truck, with an overload of 7-tons of gravel in it, when the brakes went out, as he was going down a hill. He said he considered jumping, briefly, but then had visions of the truck either running over him, or hitting someone else before it came to a stop. So, he stayed with it, geared it down, and got it stopped at the bottom of the hill. That was another high pucker factor situation.

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Re: Don't lose your cool

Post by Halfapint » Tue May 25, 2021 12:18 pm

Lost all breaks on my 65 mustang, the line burst in the front right. I was going down one of the steepest hills around here. Trucks were banned from driving it in normal conditions. I was pumping the breaks trying to get it to slow down, I threw it into low gear. And gently touched the parking break. I got it to stop about 4’ into the intersection at the bottom of the hill. The gf at the time had no idea the breaks went out. I drive it home (all uphill) using just the ebrake, I was 17 at the time.

The last time happened this year. Was using the farm truck to move a small load of wood from one property to the other and I was backing down the hill on our property. Well it’s rather steep (think it’s 15% grade) and the brakes gave out. Slammed on the ebrake and stopped it, but I dumped my load. All down the hill.

Brake failures happen, luckily not so much anymore!
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Re: Don't lose your cool

Post by Vicarious_Lee » Tue May 25, 2021 4:40 pm

When I lost my brakes because my master cylinder blew out when I was 17 and carrying my two younger sisters in the car, it never occurred to me to crash intentionally.

I just put on the hazard lights, drove an additional 10 miles into town until I found a convenient parking lot with a curb to roll up against, and downshifted my way into it. :clownshoes:

To be fair it was broad daylight on flat level ground, and I'd just merged onto a highway, so I had plenty of time to think. Still pretty proud of teenage me tho.
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Re: Don't lose your cool

Post by RoneKiln » Wed May 26, 2021 12:04 am

Valentines day my senior year in highschool I was driving with my date in a convoy of friends into a large city to watch 3 of my favorite bands at the time. This was not a small or casual date for me. This was a very big deal to me.

Some idiot abruptly comes to a dead stop on the freeway. We suspect he realized he had just missed his exit and had an idiot panic moment. We don't know for sure cause he floored it right after the ensuing 4 car pileup that happened when my brakes went out. The first 3 vehicles, all driven by friends of mine, likely all stopped in time. A few people thought there were some smaller fender benders in that, and I told them to shut-up cause I was in trouble no matter what, let's not drag the other drivers down. I thought I was going to stop in time. My date thought I was going to stop in time. But somewhere around the point I decelerated to 25ish or 30ish miles per hour the master cylender blew. I slammed into the car in front of me and sparked the pileup.

So I've just smashed up a total 4 vehicles counting mine, near every one filled to capacity with my friends. And as I mentioned before the guy that started it all speeds off.

The state trooper shows up and immediately starts hitting on my 16 year old date (remember I was in highschool and only 17 myself). My date is banged up pretty bad and starts asking for an ambulance. The trooper just keeps hitting on her. The tow truck driver comes up to me and repeats several times that it's ok if I don't stay with my truck. I can leave it with him and go. I don't know why he thinks this is so important for me to understand, and I finally get a little snappy with him. I'm trying to sort out paperwork with the cop that keeps ignoring me and hitting on my date when I finally realize all my friends are gone. Now I'm really pissed. I do not run with people that abandon one another.

The tow truck driver sees and hears me flip out over being abandoned on the side of the freeway 80ish miles from home and pulls me aside. He lets me know the cop told all my friends they were required to leave the scene and my date and I were required to stay. That's why he kept trying to reassure me it was ok to leave with them. I had missed the cop driving all my friends away while I was filling out some forms. Now we're both staring at this cop that is still hitting on my date. We look at each other and immediately agree we need to get her out of there and to a hospital. The cop still won't call an ambulance for her. I was jacked on adrenaline and accustomed to taking some hard hits, so I was pretty functional. Just very angry.

The tow driver breaks company rules and drives us to a hospital. Since he didn't have 2 spare seatbelts, only one, we were also breaking the law. He was also off shift and had just happened to be driving home when he saw the wreck. The cop had never called in a tow truck. God bless that man for rescuing us.

I carry my date into the hospital but they won't treat her cause she's a minor and it wasn't quite "emergency" enough to bypass their legal concerns. But if we had showed up in an ambulance.... I did not take well to the scolding from the lady working the desk that was extremely snippy and condescending over "my choice" not to call an ambulance. Luckily the two security guys that got involved were far more empathetic to me than the lady at the desk, and did not take my intense demeanor personally. Or they were scared to death of me. I'm not sure which. I was a very fit intense young man that was clearly very protective of an injured young lady.

So they help me get quarters for the pay phone cause the 1 quarter I ALWAYS carried for emergencies wasn't enough for a long distance call, and the "lady" at the desk won't let me use her phone.

For any millenials or gen Z; not too long ago nobody carried phones in their pockets, public phones were coin fed, and calling any farther than 10 or 20 miles could quickly get fairly expensive. And we memorized phone numbers all the time.

I went through lots of quarters cause nobody's parents were home. I finally got in touch with someone that could keep calling our parents for me. And I sit there in the hospital with my date, helpless to do anything for her as she lies in agony. She had never experienced any significant trauma before and she was terrified. Everyone walked a real big arc around me.

Finally a rather jumpy looking nurse came looking for us and helped. Her parents had finally gotten the message and had difficulties with the hospital staff on the phone. Apparently her Dad finally said something to the general effect that if they hadn't given his little girl the best possible care by the time he got there; he, the likely angry young man watching over her, and that young mans father were all going to cooperate in tearing the ER apart (he was right, my Dad would have helped).

She was getting excellent care by the time both our fathers walked in together. The staff were especially cautious around the three of us. It didn't help that my Dad didn't believe me about the brakes at the time and was furious with me for what he assumed was reckless driving. We were extremely close to swinging at one another, but I think the staff assumed our fury was a united front against them. Surprisingly, my date's Dad had my back and gave me full benefit of the doubt.

Afterwards I discovered one of the other trucks in the convoy had its bed knocked clean off. Luckily it balanced ok and with a few straps got back home without flying off. That cop should have called at least 2 tow trucks and likely 3 ambulances. Several of us discovered we were hurt pretty bad the next day. He screwed up the report as well leaving off one of the vehicles. The legal aftermath was interesting, but all of us involved maintained a united front.

That was my last date with that young lady. Though we stayed friendly afterwards.

My Dad finally believed me about the brakes when he tried to use them while loading the truck onto a trailer to haul it home. He rolled right over the edge of the trailer and high centered it. I think that was only the 2nd time I ever saw him apologize in my life at that point.

To this day I refuse to work on brakes. I always pay professionals to do even the slightest brake work.
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