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American Government Special Collections Reference Desk


The New York Times
December 31, 1922

The greatest fault with American drivers today is that they drive with their brakes, was the statement of an automobile factory official.

"The motorist should take things easy in driving, whether in a crowd or out of a crowd," he adds.  "Fast driving between short city blocks, followed by a sudden jamming on of the brakes, gains little time and is expensive, both in the wear and tear on the tires, the burning out of the brake lining and injury to the brakes and other mechanical parts of the car.  Never put more pressure on the brakes than is absolutely necessary to stop at the point you wish.

"Every time you hear a traffic officer's whistle in a large city, you almost immediately hear a crunching of brakes and a scraping of dry tires on the pavement.

"Even in long cross-country drives, where hilly country is encountered, some drivers constantly jam on their brakes when slowing down instead of allowing their cars to slow down before the brakes are applied.

"In going down hill take your foot off the accelerator, and the motor, set at a safe pace, will hold the car back.  If the grade is very steep, shift to second or first speed, as the grade may require, before starting.

"Under no circumstances is it advisable to throw the clutch out when actually driving downhill.  To do so may mean absolute loss of control.  It is not good driving, either, to shut off the spark completely.  It is a safe practice to have the motor running in order to have power on tap in case of emergency.

"There is no question at all that brakes are extremely important for the purpose for which they are built, but simply because they are efficient, reliable and the easy way to drive is no reason for abuse which results in damage to other parts of the car as well."

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