“No Engine Braking” Signs in Austin
First of all… I understand that these signs are intended for semi tractors and not passenger vehicles. However, the city ordinance (Austin, Texas City Ordinances) Title Twelve Article 3 12-1-33 indeed does not state that this is for large trucks and not passenger vehicles.
§ 12-1-33 USE OF ENGINE BRAKE OR RETARDER PROHIBITED.
(A) This section applies to a roadway or street within the corporate limits of the City, including a state maintained roadway.
(B) A person may not use an engine brake or engine retarder to assist in slowing or braking a motor vehicle, except for a fire truck engaged in emergency duties.
Now, this is very interesting (or ridiculously stupid depending on who you talk to). Austin, could (theoretically) mail a fine to every vehicle owner every month forever. Why? Because every vehicle and driver engine brakes every day.
By definition, if you are slowing down, without the clutch of a manual transmission car being engaged or an automatic transmission vehicle in neutral, then you are engine braking.
Have you ever taken your foot off the gas slightly to slow down? Not even all the way off, just let up a little? That’s engine braking. You are using some of the power of your engine to slow the vehicle instead of accelerating or maintaining speed.
Now, will this law ever get enforced against a passenger vehicle? Of course not. If the police are pulling you over, then they have something bigger than engine braking on you.
On the other hand, it seems really stupid to create a law that every driver will break every day. It just makes the rest of the laws look weak. “Oh well, they can’t enforce this law, what else won’t they enforce?”
One of the first things I learned as a teacher (and put to use as a parent) is never say you’ll do something that you won’t do. If you say it, you’d better do it. Otherwise, the rest of your school year (or life) will be miserable. Don’t threaten with anything outside your ability to do. If you say that you’re going to spank, then you better freaking spank or your kid will walk all over you and not understand why you enforce some rules and not others. Then you have the constant battle of the kid trying to find out which rules you’ll enforce.
The same goes for law-makers, especially at the city and county level. This law is really for heavy trucks (ten wheel and above). Change the law to read that and amend the signs to say that. It just looks stupid to anyone who understands anything about cars… and especially those loud ass motorcycles that are way louder than engine braking trucks. The police don’t do anything about them.