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Sudden Unexplained Acceleration, Fact or Fiction It seems lately every news story deals with Toyota’s accelerating for no known reason. So without knowing what might be wrong with the technical aspects of the vehicles. Let’s look at what we can verify. The Los Angeles Times has a list of 56 fatal incidents over 19 years involving unintended Toyota acceleration, the age of the drivers can be verified by public records. What was revealed was the average age of the driver turns out to be 60 — that is to say, half the drivers were that old or older. By comparison only 16% of all auto fatalities in 2008 occurred with a driver 60 years old or older. Whatever is causing Avalon’s, Highlanders, and Tundra’s to misbehave is largely bypassing drivers in their twenties and thirties and instead homing in on drivers old enough to remember the Howdy Doody Show and the Lone Ranger. On Wednesday there was a story of a man who frantically called 911 while his Prius ran away on a San Diego freeway. Before long observers started picking apart his story, and started looking at this mans past actions and his financial records. By Thursday newspapers such as the New York Times ran a good op-ed advancing the possibility that most of the Toyota cases will turn out to be the result of . . . driver error. As an owner of a 2004 Toyota Prius I was curious about the reports that the 2008 Prius ‘s would not stop when the brakes were applied and the car would not go into neutral when commanded by the driver using the shift lever. Another concern was the ignition On/Off button was depressed the car would not shut off. So I conducted my own experiment with my 2004 Prius. First I accelerated my car up to 65 MPH and held my gas pedal on the floor while I shifted into neutral. It took about two seconds before the car recognized the command to go into neutral. The engine RPM’s went up and down while I coasted over to the side of the road. Once the car was stopped I was able to put the car into park and stop the engine. Now I wanted to see if I could stop the engine if I was under heavy acceleration by depressing the ignition On/Off switch. It took about 2 seconds for the computer to recognize that I wanted to shut the engine off. The engine died and I safely coasted over to the side of the road (with a harder to turn steering wheel.) The final test was to see if I stepped on the gas pedal and the brake pedal at the same time what would happen? To my surprise the engine died immediately, proving to me that this little car is not the dangerous out of control car the media has portrayed. So when all the hype settles down, most cases of out of control Toyota’s will be nothing more than operator error or people wanting their 15 minutes of fame. Live long and prosper. James Morris

Sudden Unexplained Acceleration, Fact or Fiction It seems lately every news story deals with Toyota’s accelerating for no known reason. So without knowing what might be wrong with the technical aspects of the vehicles. Let’s look at what we can verify. The Los Angeles Times has a list of 56 fatal incidents over 19 years involving unintended Toyota acceleration, the age of the drivers can be verified by public records. What was revealed was the average age of the driver turns out to be 60 — that is to say, half the drivers were that old or older. By comparison only 16% of all auto fatalities in 2008 occurred with a driver 60 years old or older. Whatever is causing Avalon’s, Highlanders, and Tundra’s to misbehave is largely bypassing drivers in their twenties and thirties and instead homing in on drivers old enough to remember the Howdy Doody Show and the Lone Ranger. On Wednesday there was a story of a man who frantically called 911 while his Prius ran away on a San Diego freeway. Before long observers started picking apart his story, and started looking at this mans past actions and his financial records. By Thursday newspapers such as the New York Times ran a good op-ed advancing the possibility that most of the Toyota cases will turn out to be the result of . . . driver error. As an owner of a 2004 Toyota Prius I was curious about the reports that the 2008 Prius ‘s would not stop when the brakes were applied and the car would not go into neutral when commanded by the driver using the shift lever. Another concern was the ignition On/Off button was depressed the car would not shut off. So I conducted my own experiment with my 2004 Prius. First I accelerated my car up to 65 MPH and held my gas pedal on the floor while I shifted into neutral. It took about two seconds before the car recognized the command to go into neutral. The engine RPM’s went up and down while I coasted over to the side of the road. Once the car was stopped I was able to put the car into park and stop the engine. Now I wanted to see if I could stop the engine if I was under heavy acceleration by depressing the ignition On/Off switch. It took about 2 seconds for the computer to recognize that I wanted to shut the engine off. The engine died and I safely coasted over to the side of the road (with a harder to turn steering wheel.) The final test was to see if I stepped on the gas pedal and the brake pedal at the same time what would happen? To my surprise the engine died immediately, proving to me that this little car is not the dangerous out of control car the media has portrayed. So when all the hype settles down, most cases of out of control Toyota’s will be nothing more than operator error or people wanting their 15 minutes of fame. Live long and prosper. James Morris

 

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