Runaway Toyota Prius Driver Had To Be Told To Use Emergency Brake

Illustration for article titled Runaway Toyota Prius Driver Had To Be Told To Use Emergency Brake

New information about yesterday's runaway Prius indicates the CHP had to tell the driver to use both the brake and the emergency brake. More proof of beige biting back.

Much of yesterday's out-of-control Prius story confused us and the interview on CNN with driver Jim Sikes has us even more perplexed. At one point he says he was "standing on the pedal" indicating a brake pedal that couldn't overwhelm an accelerator. Then he goes on to mention he tried to pull the accelerator pedal up by hand — not a move normally recommended. Eventually he was able to turn the car off and stop.


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According to NBC San Diego the driver was possibly already concerned about the possibility of being in a runaway car:

He said he had visited Toyota of El Cajon to get the vehicle serviced and to take care of a recall notice on the acceleration. He said that the dealership told him that his was not a model covered by the recall and he was turned away.

The Prius is a second-generation model and should be under the floor mat recall, but there's no fix for Prius drivers with this issue yet and the driver is adamant the floor mats were fine.


It may turn out this driver had a serious issue, but his response to it is exactly what we mean by beige bites back. To quote an appropriate line from Engines Of Our Ingenuity

"The price of convenience is loss of control, loss even of understanding. And we wonder: How far can we trust what we cannot follow?"

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Whither the brash American, his chin-first, eyes-open challenge? Whence his self-reliance, hearty courage? Whither indeed.

In a time not too far gone that it's faded entirely from memory, this kind of thing happened from time to time when a mechanical linkage might stick. And it was understood that in a world where brass bits corrode and steel rusts, the possiblity was real, the probability finite. So you were expected to know what to do, to leap into action in your own defense. And once you were pulled over to the side, you would step to the rear of your vehicle, pull out your trusty old toolbox with the piano hinge lid and top tray full of sockets, lift the hood and set things to rights. And then you would continue your trip.

The brash American may not be so brash anymore. He peers myopically into the GPS display to find directions to a full-service auto shop, and calls AAA for a tow there. He does this from the front seat of the car. Leaping into action closely resembles peevishly flipping open one's phone.

Stand up. Take up your tools and your Haynes manuals. Dive into the forbidden land hidden under the hood of your car. It cannot wake up and hurt you. It cannot deride your fumbling efforts. It isn't your first time getting past second base after a bad movie, it's you finding your autonomy, your birthright, your will to live as a thinking human! You will not be mocked for seeking a higher understanding of the things you rely on from day to day, you will be rewarded! Greater knowledge is its own reward, an emancipation of the spirit.

Should the silly thing ever try to run away with you, best you learn all of its systems and vagaries now, while it sits dormant and complacent in your driveway. Learn them well, rehearse them in your mind. Take upon yourself responsibility for the risks you choose to face. The life you save may be your own.

More important than that, it may be mine. Get started.