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Till deaTh do us parT

and my mechanic (may he live
forever, or at least until I’m
gone) looked at me in profound
wonderment and said — without
expletives — “Where did THAT
question come from?” It worries
me. What do you suggest Barbara
do if I have a “medical event” while
BY RAY MAGLIOZZI
driving? — John
Dear Car Talk:
Well, first she should call her
What can a passenger do to bring boyfriend and tell him the coast
a car safely to a stop if the driver
is clear. Actually, John, it is an
should die while driving the car on unpleasant thing to think about,
a highway?
but there are things Barbara can
do in such an emergency. Let’s say
My wife sits in the passenger seat.
you’re driving, and you suddenly
She cannot drive or safely move
from her seat without help. But she choke on a beef jerky at 65 mph.
can reach the ignition key, steering We don’t know the details. Is your
foot still on the gas? Are you using
wheel and console gearshift with
cruise control? Are you slumped
her left hand.
onto
the steering wheel?
We are blessed with a carefully
maintained 2010 Toyota Venza,
Let’s say all of those are true.

What Barbara wants to do is avoid
driving off the road, or into a
bridge abutment. So, the first step
is to grab the wheel and keep the
car going straight. Next, she has
to get the car to stop accelerating.
She’ll do that by putting the car in
neutral. Whether your foot is on
the gas or the cruise control is set,
shifting into neutral will cause the
car to coast to a stop.
You can have her practice putting
the car in neutral a few times while
you’re driving. Just don’t practice
slumping over. She won’t find that
funny. Once she has the car in
neutral, she’ll want to steer the car
out of harm’s way. With her left
hand on the wheel, she should be
able to slowly edge the car over to
the shoulder of the road.
If she really has her wits about her,

show her where the emergency
flashers are, and she can turn those
on to alert other cars that you’re
not just a lousy driver, John, but
there’s an emergency.
Once the car is safely on the
shoulder of the road and stopped,
or almost stopped, she can put
the car in park and call for help.
Hopefully, a Heimlich maneuver
will bring you back so she can look
forward to doing it all over again
someday.
***
Got a question about cars? Write to
Ray in care of King Features, 628
Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803, or
email by visiting the Car Talk website
at www.cartalk.com.
© 2019 by Ray Magliozzi and
Doug Berman Distributed by
King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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