Advertisement
Find a Car
Go!

How To Stop A Runaway Car


Car accident

Car accident

Enlarge Photo

Toyota's ride to the top of the sales charts has struck a serious speed bump.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that some Toyota and Lexus vehicles can  unexpectedly accelerate when their throttles stick open.

Toyotas aren't the only cars that might run away, in the hands of a less experienced driver.  Nonetheless, the scope of Toyota's recall, and the fact that many Toyotas don't have "fail-safe" brakes or "smart throttles" raise safety concerns.

New action separate from floor mat recall

Last fall, Toyota warned that unsecured floor mats jammed accelerator pedals.  The NHTSA, however, said the incidents it investigated revealed additional problems.  Later, Toyota announced it would reshape gas pedals and add a brake override system to certain vehicles.

Toyota now says that throttle pedals might stick under rare conditions, under this separate recall.  This confirms the NHTSA's concerns.  Other factors that compound the problem and could lead to more accidents: the company's widespread use of keyless push-button ignitions that require you to hold the button for at least three seconds before the engine shuts off, and difficulty stopping when only pressing on the brakes.

At a Chicago automotive press event, I asked Nissan's Brian Brockman about smart pedals.  He says that most new Nissan and Infiniti cars have them.  Furthermore, German brands such as Mercedes and VW have effective fail-safe brakes.

Expect a federal mandate for industry-wide use of smart pedals.  Since "drive-by-wire" throttles are common, this makes sense.

How to stop a runaway car

Until all cars have them, you should know how to stop a "runaway" car. One of my first driving experiences involved a gas pedal that didn't release.  The "floating" gas pedal stuck under a misplaced floor mat.  Since this was a stick-shift car with manual steering and no steering wheel interlock, my father quickly grabbed the keys and shut the engine off.  He prevented push rods flying through our Ford Country Sedan's hood and taught a valuable lesson.

Automotive engineers say follow these steps if you're involved in a case of unexpected acceleration:

1.  Press the brake pedal down.  Do not pump; you'll lose power assist.

2.  Shift into neutral.  Practice this in a safe location; finding neutral might be difficult.

3.  Use the brakes to bring the vehicle to a stop on the roadside.

4.  Shut off the engine.

5.  Shift into park.

Get the latest on the Toyota safety recall at TheCarConnection

Posted in:
Advertisement
 
Follow Us

 

Have an opinion?

  • Posting indicates you have read this site's Privacy Policy and Terms of Use
  • Notify me when there are more comments
Comments (9)
  1. This is timely advise, Cliff. I had a heated discussion with my girlfriend on this issue the other night. It's my contention that bad drivers are at fault in these "unintended acceleration" incidents, not the car itself. That's because at some point, any car, regardless of make or model, will fail. As drivers, it's our responsibility to know how to control the vehicle under all conditions. To panic and simply allow the car to run away isn't an excuse. I suggest all drivers take time now to learn how to safely bring their car under control when it looses a critical function.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  2. This should be posted in 911 Call Centers all over the country.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  3. best way to stop the problem: don't buy a Toyota, or sell yours if you have one. Solved.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  4. Don't we have a bigger problem with runaway deficits, than with runaway cars?
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  5. Now I really don't understand why everyone is putting push button start on their cars. What does it accomplish?
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  6. David Bynon, you seriously think people just panicked and let their cars run away, in some cases causing death? Of course there will be circumstances when it is just an over-panicked driver.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  7. very timely. appreciate the advice. hope i have the presence of mind to shift into neutral if in this kind of a situation - seems like the key step in the process.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  8. What many forget is that the on/off button, transmission selector, and accelerator are all controlled by the computer, which may be faulty.....
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  9. @Mark: It's not "the computer". It's a series of control modules for the engine, the transmission, the vehicle, etc. They are independent and send data back and forth. For one to fail is highly unlikely. For ALL of them to fail is statistically so unlikely that in practical terms, it's impossible.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

 

Have an opinion? Join the conversation!

Advertisement
Advertisement
Try My Showroom
Save cars, write notes, and comparison shop with hi-res photos.
Add your first car
Take Us With You!
   
Advertisement

 
© 2015 The Car Connection. All Rights Reserved. The Car Connection is published by High Gear Media. Stock photography by izmo, Inc. Send us feedback.
Advertisement