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Stuck Accelerator? Here's What to Do

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A traffic expert gives tips that just might save your life.

A California Highway Patrol officer helped slow a runaway Toyota Prius from 94 mph to a safe stop on Monday after the car's accelerator became stuck on a San Diego County freeway, the CHP said. Toyota recently recalled about 437,000 Prius and other hybrid vehicles worldwide to fix brake problems -- but not accelerator problems.

Toyota Motor Corp. said today that the Prius involved in this highly publicized acceleration incident, along with hundreds of thousands of other car models, will be recalled to prevent floor mats from pinning down the gas pedal. But the recall has not been officially issued yet.


Last year, a family of four was killed when their car's accelerator stuck and they crashed going 100 mph.

What should you do if your accelerator ever gets stuck? We called our friend Mr. Traffic, a.k.a. Kenny Morse, for guidance.

"Knowing what to do in the unlikely case of a gas pedal sticking might save your life," he says. "First of all, this happens rarely. But if you keep your wits about you and do not panic, it can make all the difference."

Here are his top tips:

• First, try to hit the pedal to make sure nothing is forcing it down.

• Next, PUT THE CAR IN NEUTRAL IMMEDIATELY and gently start to brake, being aware of the traffic around you. Pull the car to the side of the street or road as soon as possible.

• The last resort is turning off the ignition or power, but you have to make sure that you do not lock the steering wheel. You will lose your power in the brakes and steering. DO NOT try to drive the vehicle, as it will rev the engine to a dangerous level.

"Knowing what to do in a potential emergency is what makes a driver a driver," Morse says. "Anyone can step on the gas and go straight, but do you know how to avoid a collision or something like this?"

For more on how to deal with emergency situations, check out www.mrtraffic.com.


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20 comments so far | Post a comment now
BuyAmerican March 9, 2010, 3:47 PM

Don’t buy a stupid Jap car and you won’t have that problem!

Anon March 9, 2010, 6:28 PM

This problem with the accelerator has been happening with Toyotas in Australia too.

Tristan's Mommy March 9, 2010, 10:07 PM

This article is irresponsible journalism. To blame the incidents on floor mats is careless. There is more to the story. If it WAS just the floor mats sticking, then all these drivers would’ve had success throwing their cars into neutral (even park) or stepping on the brakes would’ve had some affect on the acceleration. Even turning off the car would have worked. NONE of that did for any of these drivers! Besides, since when did a floor mat cause a car to suddenly accelerate and not slow down? At minimum, you’d expect the car to reach a certain speed limit then STAY at that speed if it was a simple matter of the gas pedal being caught on a floor mat.

On a news piece, they talked about that family, how NOTHING would cause the car to override the acceleration, how it happened to some other people with the same issues, and how one man took a Toyota’s computer brain and found there was a glitch in the computer system which caused the acceleration to override all other commands. Toyota needs to seriously consider this instead of looking for stupid, nonsensical explanations because they’re afraid they’ll go bankrupt. I suspect they know and are playing ignorant. Sadly, it comes down to yet another foreign product that’s deadly to us. I’ve got to wonder how strict are their laws about vehicle safety if this can happen? All the more reason to buy domestic.

Anonymous March 10, 2010, 6:05 AM

i have a pontiac vibe (made by toyota) and my floor mat has made my gas petal stick 3 times…3 TIMES! thankfully my husband told me to put the car in neutral (because for some stupid reason i didn’t think of that!!!) it does happen. but you know, toyota’s and honda’s last a heck of a lot longer than chevy and ford. we purchased a brand new chevy (had 4 miles on it when we drove it off the lot) and 4 years later i traded it in because there was so much wrong with it that it wouldn’t have made it another year. my husband works at a car dealership so we take very good care of our vehicles, the car was just a bad car.

g March 10, 2010, 10:46 AM

doesnt anyone remember driver training anymore? i learned in 1989 that if you have a problem put the xmission in neutral hazzard lights on and coast to a stop. and all of theese idiots out there freaking out about their cars now, dont… us plggers say ” a lil’ WD-40 goes a long way”

carrie December 30, 2010, 1:36 AM

It is very hard to think in a split second when your brain dont have enough information to process. And the first suggestion to actually press the pedal down? I dont think you should be doing that when you are no longer in control of a vehicle.

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