I have a confession: I’ve been risking my life

Yes, still driving a Prius.

I do buy that accelerator pedals can be mechanically jammed by a floor mat (though there’s clips on my car to hold it in place), but this unintended acceleration ‘panic’ is just that.  (If for no other reason that there’s now a flurry of cases of this, and none before it was the freak-out du jour).

Sorry, I do intend to keep risking my life by driving a Prius.  If I die in an unintended acceleration incident in it, I’ll refund your yearly viewing fee.

funny graphs and charts
see more Funny Graphs

Update: I couldn’t find this link last night, but here’s Popular Mechanics explaining why the ABC ‘news’ story on unintended acceleration requires a lot of kludging of electronics in a very particular way.

Also from PM: things to do if you do have a Sudden Acceleration incident.


  1. Jabulani says:

    I happened to catch this story on the news this morning cuz hubs had tv on at 5am (!!!!) otherwise I’d probably have missed it. Hubs will tell you that even in my still-half-asleep state, I nevertheless managed to swear fluently (in several languages which hubs over 20yrs of exposure, is beginning to understand)at the idiot who was driving. He and I both said at pretty much the same time, “Why the hell didn’t he pull over and turn off the car, then call the breakdown company?”?!! I don’t drive a Death-Trap-Toyota, so I guess that’s not possible to do, huh?

    I drive a Renault MPV. It too is a Death-Trap-Vehicle. Some years ago, I had a recall about the seatbelts in the middle row. Took the car in, they glued something to something else, which apparently sorted the problem out.
    18 months later, my son tried to click his belt in and the damn buckle disintegrated. It just fell off. So back it went to the garage. Who told me I’d broken it. So I got shirty with them (yeah, imagine that!!), reminded them that not 18 months previously they’d fixed the “seatbelt issue”. They said they hadn’t. At which point I provided the invoice that “said” they had! And then started mentioning that I had children in the seatbelts that hadn’t actually been repaired – my own as well as other people’s – along with words like Lawyers, Negligence and possible Manslaughter. Dramatic I know, but damn, it worked a treat. I suppose I could have sued them or whatever, but I just wanted my car fixed so I could continue using it. I also would have to continue using that garage and was damn sure they were going to be giving me bloody wonderful service from that point on (they do!).
    So, like you, I drive a High-Risk car. Goodness how exhilarating using common sense can be!!

  2. May I commend you on your bravery ;)

  3. Alternate theory. The stories existed previously, but the media now deems them more newsworthy so that you find out more often.

  4. Be safe, Doc.

  5. Alternate alternate theory: mass hysteria is just that.

  6. Just wondering — do these cars being electric and all — not have the ability to shift into neutral or just turn off the ignition?

  7. Yes, you can shift them into neutral while moving forward (I’ve done it), and yes, you can turn them off by depressing the power button (though Toyotas need to be held down for about 3 seconds to turn off).

    I read about the power switch in either PM or PopSci, don’t recall which.

  8. In interview he said he was afraid to turn car off due to fear that wheel would lock-up and send him off the road.

  9. And, will it, Eric T? Umm, no…

  10. And, will it, Eric T? Umm, no…

    Well, just because you know what will happen doesn’t mean he does. It’s a pretty reasonable fear at 90 mph if you aren’t a car guy.

  11. So, not knowing how the car he’s operating works absolves him of all responsibility for endangering others? Wouldn’t you call that negligence if it were a doctor?

  12. Doc, you gotta be kidding me. At least 99% of the population doesn’t know how cars work these days as so much of it is done by computers. If this problem was caused by a malfunction, and if this resulted in an accident where people were hurt, there isn’t a reasonable person in the world that would blame the driver.

    In fact, the law (at least in NY) even provides an “emergency doctrine” for when drivers are faced with an emergency that was not created by them. They can’t be blamed.

    So you’ve gone out on a limb with that one.

  13. If anyone’s out on a limb, it’s people who want to blame inanimate objects for somehow doing things they won’t do.

  14. If anyone’s out on a limb, it’s people who want to blame inanimate objects for somehow doing things they won’t do.

    I’m not blaming anyone. I have no way of knowing if this was a car malfunction, driver error or panic, or scam. Which is why I use the word “if” in my comments. An independent engineer that examines the black box will probably have a whole lot more info on what actually happened.

  15. AuntSusie says:

    Nearly 30 years ago I had a GM station wagon that the accelerator hung a few times. During the first incident, getting off Central Expressway and turning off the igition was my second plan (after putting my foot under the pedal and lifting up didn’t work). Second plan worked. The next 2 times, I had thought the experience through and shoved into neutral. That worked, too. Funny, I never thought about lawsuit or blame. Just figured “The Machinery” did work right that day. We drove the thing for many years afterward without repeat occurences. Then, again, I’ve alway been a DIY’er.

  16. AuntSusie says:

    Oh – and we drive a Prius now.

  17. ” An independent engineer that examines the black box will probably have a whole lot more info on what actually happened.”

    Knowledge is overrated as a basis for forming opinions.

  18. “Knowledge is overrated as a basis for forming opinions.”

    Because, uninformed opinion is so much better?