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Speeding Prius Out-Of-Control In San Diego

Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, March 09, 2010 11:36 AM EST
Category: On The Road
Tags: Toyota, Unintended Acceleration, NHTSA, Rhonda Smith, Sticking Gas Pedals, Recall, Prius, Tundra, Lexus, Highlander, Class-Action

Prius stopped with the help of instructions from CHP officer.

Stopped With Help From CHP

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IMAGE SOURCE: BBCNews Web site

The Street reports that a 2008 Prius sped out of control at 94 mph in San Diego on Monday.

61-year-old James Sikes tells AP that “I pushed the gas pedal to pass a car and it did something kind of funny…it jumped and it just stuck there.” “As it was going, I was trying the brakes…it wasn’t stopping, it wasn’t doing anything and it just kept speeding up.”

According to reports, Sikes was driving on Interstate 8 and called 911. A California Highway Patrol (CHP) officer gave him instruction to help bring the car down to 50 mph and eventually to a stop, reports the Los Angeles Times.

The Times says that the officer used a loudspeaker to tell the driver to apply both his emergency brake along with the brake pedal at the same time. At 50 mph, Sikes could turn off the engine and coast to a stop. The officer drove his car ahead of Sikes to block it from moving forward.

Toyota, which has recalled millions of vehicles over unintended acceleration, has dispatched a field representative to study the car.

The 2008 Prius was part of a November recall of 4 million cars. No word on whether he took his car into the dealer as recommended by the recall notice.

Toyota has recalled some 8.5 million vehicles, 6 million in the U.S. over braking issues in the Prius and acceleration problems in other models.

At least 34 deaths are blamed on the problematic automobiles, including the San Diego deaths last August of CHP officer Mark Saylor and three family members when their Lexus accelerator got stuck and slammed their vehicle into a SUV at 100 mph then down an embankment.

Billions in Losses

The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that Toyota could be facing a $5 billion loss from campaigns to lure customers back including zero percent interest for five years and free maintenance, lawsuits and its extensive new marketing advertisements.

Sales for Toyotas are down 12.7% in February, an improvement over the previous months 14%.

Litigation and Class-Actions

Class-action status is being sought in at least a dozen lawsuits. The latest is brought on behalf of the Pena family of Texas who owned a runaway Avalon, made by Toyota.

Robert Hilliard, (IB Partner) of Hilliard Munoz Guerra LLP, believes the lawsuit, filed in federal court in Corpus Christi, will include owners of all types of Toyotas from all over Texas.

And Beasley Allen (IB Partner,) an Alabama law firm, announced last week it is filing suit in Florida on behalf of more than 5 million Toyota owners affected by the recall.

Toyota is facing lawsuits from individuals as well including the Houston plaintiff who alleges his wife was killed in when her 2009 Toyota accelerated and crashed. #


4 Comments

Anonymous User
Posted by EmilyKitty
Thursday, March 11, 2010 6:07 PM EST

Did Bankrupt Runaway Prius Driver Fake "Unintended Acceleration?"
LINK

The Full 24-Minutes-Long Runaway Prius 911 Tape Scaramanga

After listening to the entire thing, there are a lot of things that don't add up; it does sound like a hoax.

First and foremost is that he's on the phone for 23 minutes; if this was unintendedly accelerating this vehicle would be gaining speed much faster over the coarse of 23 minutes, even for a car as underpowered as a Prius (even Al Gore's son got a speeding ticket for 100 mph).

In fact, at a little over the 20 minute mark the 911 operator asks if he's on cruise control.

Also, the car does have conventional disc brakes, and they engage when you stomp on it (which I would assume this gentleman did in an emergency situation). This Prius only has 76hp gas engine, and 67hp electric motor, and can only maximum power of 110hp combined. The disc brakes should have been able to overcome that puny power output. It also doesn't occur to him to use the 'emergency' brake until almost 20 minutes on the phone?

The other thing is he should have been able to get into neutral, even if he hit the car into P, the Prius will automatically go into neutral if the car is in motion.

He also says that cars were passing him "left and right" while he was going over 90 MPH; which is the reason he gave for his fear of someone 'rear-ending' him. That doesn't make sense either, especially being there was a Patrol car following towards the end.

There's $5 billion dollars that trail lawyers are seeking from Toyota, there is a monetary incentive. And there is also the fact he's wearing a ""Corvette Owners Club San Diego" jacket during his TV appearances.

Something smells fishy...

A grown "Corvette Owner" should be able to handle a puny 110hp Prius.

Anonymous User
Posted by DickOvens
Thursday, March 11, 2010 11:05 PM EST

This story sounded too unreal yesterday, proving that earliest news is usually not too accurate. How could any adult experienced driver go tens of miles and not be able to place car into neutral; turn off ignition knowing both brakes and steering still work well even if all power assist to the brakes will loose power assist after a few brake pumps and power steering will get stiffer. And on a Prius, a lightweight car he could have just opened the door and stopped by shoe dragging for a mile... ala Fred Flintstone.
Now the money connection makes it even more unbelieveable. The guy wants the big Toyota to pay him dearly. That is an incredible (BS) story he has weaved. He lost all credibility when he was able to dial 911 on his cell phone; yet take no appropriate actions until a police vehicle assisted him. Panic errors happen in short moments; not 5-20 minutes. Arrest him Dano! He is a faker and needs some Pokey time to think about his wasting valuable police time and no doubt attempting to get some undeserved payoff from Toyota.

Anonymous User
Posted by tedi
Friday, March 12, 2010 6:34 PM EST

Toyota Hybrid Horror Hoax from forbes
LINK

Now here's the potential smoking gun: Sikes told the reporters that "I was reaching down and trying to pull up on the gas pedal. It didn't move at all; it was stationary." That's awfully daring for somebody who insisted he didn't even want to take a hand off his steering wheel, notwithstanding that he did so to hold his phone.I tried to imitate Sikes' alleged effort in a 2008 Prius. From the front bottom of the steering wheel to the front bottom of the accelerator in up position it's 28.5 inches; while fully deployed it's 2.5 inches farther away. I have average-length arms (33-inch shirt sleeve) and no gut. But even though the steering wheel was as flush to the dashboard as it goes, it prevented me from all but touching the accelerator in the up position. To reach behind a deployed accelerator and get any kind of a grip you'd have to add at least three more inches. In my case, it required squashing my face against the radio and completely removing my eyes from the road. Only the tallest men could physically do what Sikes claimed he did and no press accounts refer his being exceptionally tall.

Anonymous User
Posted by tedi
Sunday, March 14, 2010 1:08 AM EST

AP

SAN DIEGO — Investigators with Toyota Motor Corp. and the federal government were unable to make a Toyota Prius speed out of control as its owner said it did on a California freeway, according to a memorandum obtained Saturday by The Associated Press that a congressional spokesman says casts doubt on the driver's story. James Sikes, 61, called 911 on Monday to report losing control of his Prius as the hybrid reached speeds of 94 mph. A California Highway Patrol officer helped Sikes bring the vehicle to a safe stop on Interstate 8 near San Diego.

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