The bad news keeps coming for Toyota. The California police needed to help a driver safely stop his Toyota Prius after it suddenly accelerated out of control, over 90 mph, on a busy highway.
James Sikes, whose 2008 Toyota Prius accelerated suddenly on a California interstate Monday, reaching 94 MPH before he was able to bring it under control with the help of the California Highway Patrol, said the cause of the incident was a "stuck" accelerator.
According to Sikes, he held on to his steering wheel and tried to pull the accelerator pedal back with his right hand. "I thought it was maybe stuck," he said. "Somehow the pedal was stuck. But it wasn't stuck on anything that was visible."
Sikes, 61, was driving east on Interstate 8 near Lake Jennings Park Road at 1:30 p.m. when he tried to pass a slower car, according to the California Highway Patrol's account of the incident. Sikes then noticed that the Prius seemed to be accelerating on its own.
Sikes attempted to bring the car under control himself, and then called 911 when he hit speeds over 90 miles per hour. Sikes says his vehicle reached 94 MPH.
A car from the California Highway Patrol caught up to Sikes when he was east of Kitchen Creek Road, meaning that he had traveled more than 20 miles since the incident began. Officer Todd Neibert pulled alongside the Prius and began giving Sikes instructions over his public address system.
Said Neibert, "When I saw him, I could smell the brakes."
"I was standing on the brake pedal," said Sikes, "looking out the window at him."
Based on instructions from the police officer, Sikes used his brakes and his emergency brake to slow the car down. Sikes said the car slowed to 55. After several attempts to shut off the car by using the ignition button, he was successful.
I guess that throws Toyota's theory that Americans are being to harsh and sensitive about the recalls out the window. I'm sure Mr. Sikes was absolutely terrified not being able to stop the car despite braking, and attempting to turn the car off. That defective vehicle endangered the life of not only the driver, but of everyone on the road with him. Toyota needs to put all of its resources into discovering what causes this malfunction and offer a fix or replacement vehicle...it seems clear from this incident that there is more to this than just floor mats and gas pedals that stick, this stinks of an electrical problem.
Until Toyota takes real responsibility for this problem and gives up trying to PR the problem away, it can look forward to their American consumers dumping their Toyotas in favor of something else, like a Ford.