582: Brakes

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It was the funniest 6.5 seconds of my life, although as usual like 80% of it was just Tom and Ray's gasping, hacking laughter.
Title text: It was the funniest 6.5 seconds of my life, although as usual like 80% of it was just Tom and Ray's gasping, hacking laughter.

[edit] Explanation

A car's brakes fail on a winding mountain road. As a response, the driver calls a live radio phone-in show, overlooking the fact that he is in immediate danger and has no time to gather outside advice before improvising a solution. The driver loses control of the car and plunges over a cliff.

If this ever happens to you,

  • Try pumping the brakes, it may rebuild enough pressure to slow you down
  • Downshift into second and then first gear, which should limit your vehicle's speed
  • Use your "emergency brake," it's not just for parking
  • Otherwise, find a safe place to coast to a stop, if possible, or else
  • Try to wreck your car in a way that won't kill you or your passengers. Aim for something that will slow you down before stopping you, like a stand of bushes.


The title text refers to Tom and Ray Magliozzi who were the co-hosts of the weekly radio show Car Talk. It was a car advice/comedy radio show often aired on NPR stations. While there is some actual advice given on the radio show, it's presented as a comedy/entertainment show. Much of the show did involve the hosts "gasping and hacking" as they ask non-relevant questions of the callers and add their own commentary or relate other personal asides and stories.

[edit] Transcript

Of the potential responses to my brakes' failure, I did not choose the best.
[A cliff is visible, with a car flying off it.]
Voice from car: Hello, you're on Car Talk.

[edit] Trivia

  • NPR made a shirt out of this comic, it can be seen at shop.npr.org.

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The shirt would have been even better if they would have put the alt-text underneath! -- mwburden 20:53, 12 December 2012 (UTC)

Car Talk wasn't a live call-in show! You call them, and they call you back, and it's edited into a show structure! 00:48, 23 January 2014 (UTC)

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