With Toyota attempting to recall, repair and explain its way out of recent unintended acceleration problems, the issue is proving to be difficult to resolve. Yesterday was another frightening example of the unsettled issue: a man in San Diego, CA couldn’t get his 2008 Toyota Prius to slow down while traveling on the freeway. He ended up hitting speeds of nearly 100 mph before police helped him get his car shut off.
“I thought it was maybe stuck,” James Sikes explained to reporters yesterday. “Somehow the pedal was stuck. But it wasn’t stuck on anything that was visible.”
Sikes was driving east on Interstate 8 when he tried to pass a slower car. While going around the other car, Skies noticed that his Prius kept accelerating, seemingly of its own accord. He called 911 and asked for help.
Twenty miles away from where the incident began, California Highway Patrol Officer Todd Neibert caught up to Sikes, who was still trying to slow his car down.
“When I saw him, I could smell the brakes,” Neibert said.
Sikes said that he “was standing on the brake pedal looking out the window at him,” when Neibert began to issue instructions via his public address system.
The officer suggested a variety of remedies, including the emergency brake and turning off the car. After slowing the car to around 55 mph, Sikes was able to pushing the start/stop button on his Prius (the car does not have a traditional key start; it turns on and off by way of pressing and holding a start/stop button on the dashboard), shutting the car off.
Sikes slowed his car down, eventually running into the back of the officer’s patrol cruiser before coming to a complete stop, although not before the car attempted to accelerate again.
Sikes was, not surprisingly, shaken by the incident.
“I won’t drive that car again, period,” he told reporters.
Perhaps even more frustrating, Sikes’s car was not under recall for sticky accelerator pedals. The 2008 Prius was not included in that February recall for issues with accelerator pedals, though it is covered by a separate Toyota recall for floor mats.
Sikes, however, reported, “my mat was perfect. There was nothing wrong with my mat.” The pedal “stayed right where it was” during his attempts to pull it up while the car was accelerating.
He said that there were several instances during his frightening ordeal when he came close to striking other vehicles on the interstate and that he was worried he would be unable to keep his car on the road.
In a statement on Monday, Toyota addressed the incident, saying that the automaker “had dispatched a field technical specialist to San Diego to investigate the report and offer assistance.”
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