So this is a strange subject, but I think about every time I get in the car, and since I’ve given myself this lovely “write every single day this year” project, now you get to hear about it. Lucky you! One of our cars has the kind of emergency brake where you put your foot on it and push it all the way down, and this seems to me like it is really holding the car in place. The only other type of emergency/ parking brake I have ever seen is the one in between the front two seats, where you pull it up when you park. This would be more of an “emergency” brake, I think, but you get what I’m talking about, right?
OK-- as far as I can recall, every car that I've ever owned has either had one or the other of these emergency brakes, and I thought that was the only way to make them, and they were never going to try to improve upon that idea. But…. a couple of years ago we got a car, and let it show you the emergency brake.
Yeah that's a picture of a button. It’s a button.... for emergencies, which frankly, already seems incongruous. So, this post is about the topic that I think about every time I get into or out of this particular car: is that button really holding my car in place? I feel skeptical about this.
Here’s the other thing—the noise. When you engage the “button brake,” it makes this little mechanical noise, and Stephan and I have agreed that this noise does not sound like it’s engaging a large enough piece of machinery to hold the car back in case of emergency. The noise goes “sqiiiiiunk,” and it is frankly very unsatisfying. I would like my emergency brake to involve a forceful pushing or pulling on my behalf along with a strong “SKRONK” noise. The noise is actually pretty important to me.
It's not that I'm all that concerned that the car is going to roll away, although I have to say I would never park this car on a hill for this very reason. This is a heavy car and I'm not at all confident in the in the “emergency button” and the the weak mechanical noise to be able to stop my car in case of careening. Also, speaking of careening, is this not the very mechanism that I’m supposed to use if the car’s electrical system fails and I am careening down a hill? First off, I think the emergency button is actually part of the electrical system, and secondly, am I supposed to just pull up on that button, and THAT is going to stop the careening? Careening sort of implies the need for something to push or pull, does it not? Would you want to just gently flick a button if you were careening? I think not. Has no one who designed this car actually ever BEEN in a car that is careening?
I know, that last paragraph is just really going to convince you that I love the word “careening,” and it’s true, it is a good word. Very descriptive, don’t you think? Careeeeeeeening.
But, dig this—we used to live in San Francisco, so I am going to just tell you from first-hand experience (some of which I’m not all that proud of) that sometimes you actually do need to pull up or push down on an emergency break because your car is rolling and you need to stop it or your car is going to crash. In that context, you would be woefully unprepared to respond if you had only an emergency button in your employ, my friends. I almost feel like this “parking brake button” implies that there can never be this kind of “rolling emergency” in this car, and we all know that’s not true. Can anyone tell me what you would do if you had a car with one of these buttons, and your car started rolling?
So, I love everything about this car, but this emergency button has me kind of confused and frankly a little concerned, and I kind of want to tell the dealership so they can tell the manufacturer as some “helpful feedback.”
Now I will throw this out to you—do you even USE the emergency/ parking brake in your car? I know there is a certain percentage of people who do not, so they wouldn’t even care about this kind of thing. Those people obviously have never parked a car in San Francisco, but maybe that’s an anomaly, and car makers are designing for the masses, not the exceptions.
I actually would like to hear your opinion of this. Do you use the brake? Would the “emergency button” bother you?