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Death by Water

May 11, 2006

You learn something every day.

Today, I learned that my Mazda doesn’t have anti-lock brakes.

I’ve suspected as much for awhile, given the car’s tendency to slide like a curling stone on wet roads.  But…since I usually manage to avoid panic stops in everyday driving on dry roads…I haven’t been able to confirm it.

Today, I did.

I was driving back to the office after a rare lunch with the wife when an Ozarka* water delivery truck turned left in front of me.  The driver cut it a little close, but I was far enough out that it should not have been a problem.  A say should because of what happened next.

Normally, when you turn across a road in the face of oncoming traffic, you get yourself off of said road and onto another, or into a parking lot, or what have you.  Which is what the Ozarka truck appeared to be doing, until it randomly stopped with ten feet of red water-truck ass hanging out in my lane.

My first instinct was to get into the other lane, but there was a car there.  Which left either a) stopping or b) slamming into the rear corner of an almost-semi-truck.  So my right foot finds the middle pedal and pushes it to the floor.

If I’d had anti-lock brakes, I’d have been greeted by the cachanga-changa-changa of the brakes as they modulated.  But no.  My foot went to the floor and stayed there.  Tires squealed.  Smoke billowed.  And the Mazda did not stop.

I’m going to die, I thought as I stared at that red bumper rapidly approaching.  At the same time, another instinct took over, and I threw the car into second gear and let the clutch out.  Sad that an aggressive downshift worked better than my brakes, but it slowed me down just enough.  The truck moved and I missed clipping it by about six inches.

As much as I enjoy learning new things…I really wish I’d learned this little piece of trivia before I bought the car, because I probably would not have.

* My darling wife pronounces Ozarka as "oh-zorka".  Must be a Louisiana thing.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. May 12, 2006 11:40 pm

    Glad to hear you are OK. Can I call you Cole Trickle? Desani is better anyway, down with Ozarka!

  2. Tim permalink
    May 20, 2006 8:10 pm

    I’m still trying to figure out if this all means that on wet roads you have people out in front of you whizzing around with those little brooms. If so, you’re living large, dude.

  3. Brandon permalink
    May 25, 2006 3:46 pm

    quick thinking, as that hasty down shift started the tires rotating again (which is why you quit sliding, also stopped the massive weight transfer to the front). A thought for everyone, find an open road or parking lot. get up to ~50mph (real test, 25 won’t teach you anything) and jam on the binders. lock up and slide right? Try backing off (yes, don’t push as hard). Do this to keep tire spinning (coef of friction is higher this way). Next step, don’t ‘jam’ the breaks, ‘squeeze’ them. this will minimize weight transfer to the front (helping keep more weight on the rear). Practice makes perfect…

    Also might want to check the stopping distance of a Viper (non-abs) to a 911 (turbo, carrera, doesn’t matter) apples to oranges (compared to the mazda) but goes to show you that non-abs works fine, its just more dependent on the driver… 🙂

    Good Luck

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