Here’s the latest in what seems to be a never ending saga of possessed Toyota vehicles. In yesterday’s incident, Jim Sikes was driving his Prius outside of San Diego; when he accelerated to pass a slower vehicle, the throttle “stuck” in a wide open position. His Prius reached speeds of over 90 mph, and nothing Sikes did slowed the vehicle until a CHP trooper pulled alongside and gave him specific instructions. At one point, Sikes reached down to pull up on the accelerator pedal, hoping this would return the throttle to idle. It had no effect.
I wasn’t in the car, so I really can’t comment on what happened. It seems very strange to me that none of the drivers reporting unintended acceleration have been able to put their vehicle into neutral and coast to a stop. Likewise, I find it hard to believe that a vehicle’s braking system is completely ineffective at slowing it down. Maybe it was panic that prevented the driver from selecting neutral, applying the brakes with force and coasting to the shoulder. Or turning off the ignition and doing the same. On the other hand, maybe it was something else.
I’m not doubting Sikes’ story, but it seems to me that Toyota is an easy mark for “slip and fall” artists these days. Unintended acceleration, especially with a CHP trooper as a witness, makes headline news. The fact that engineers can’t find anything wrong with the vehicle upon later inspection only plays to the press and helps the plaintiff. What jury wouldn’t side with a driver whose evil Toyota tried to kill him?