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What to Do If Your Accelerator Gets Stuck

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It’s a pretty terrifying scenario — you’re driving down the highway, cruising at around 70 mph, and you have a sudden realization: you can’t stop.

While unlikely, it is possible for your accelerator to get stuck. Tapping the brakes doesn’t do a whole lot of good in this scenario, so what’s your best option?

  • Brake. Using both feet, press and hold the brake. With the accelerator stuck in its position, this won’t have as much of an effect as you’d expect, but it’s still an important step.
  • Go neutral. With both feet pushing on the brake, shift your car into neutral. By changing gears, you’ll be able to reduce the acceleration and allow your vehicle to slow down.
  • Change direction. Gently steer the car onto the shoulder or grass, carefully avoiding any obstacles.
  • Signal for help. From there, turn on your hazard lights and call for roadside assistance.

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Believe it or not, if your accelerator is stuck, there are ways you can make the situation even worse. Here are a few things you should NOT do if you end up in this situation:

  • Do not turn off the car. If you cut the ignition, your wheel is going to lock up too — all power-assisted steering will be lost. You’ll be without brakes and without a helpful steering wheel – barreling into whatever obstacle lies in front of you.
  • Do not pump your brakes. Pumping the brakes will interfere with the power brake assist system.
  • Do not try to continue driving. Just because you’ve made it to the side of the road without significant damage doesn’t mean you’ll make it home. Call roadside assistance and have someone pick you up.

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Sources: Cars.com, Driver’s Ed, State Farm