As the story says, the man knew his brakes didn't work, but he was anxious to get home, so he thought he'd drive home anyway, dragging his feet to stop, Fred Flintstone style. The force is not strong with this one.
Most automatic transmissions i've seen do let you select the 'maximum' gear. D lets it use anything, 3 only the first three, 2 only the first 2, and 1 only the one.
Modern systems may have overrides to prevent engine damage...for example, you wouldn't what to shift from 'D' travelling 65 mph/ 100 kph down to '1', unless you want your engine to fly out of your car.
I don't think it is recommended, though, to control your speed this way.
author and iconoclast