OT: Doubts about the Runaway Prius story?

Submitted by Trepps on March 15th, 2010 at 2:00 PM

Obviously this is not proof that the "accident" didn't happen, but I remember thinking the driver's story was B.S. when I first heard it. The timing seemed way too convenient and the driver's behavior too bizarre. Why not simply turn the car off or put it in neutral as the cop directed?

Plus, there is no shortage of wacko's who will pull stunts for publicity or to file a lawsuit.




March 15th, 2010 at 2:12 PM ^

The guy said he was afraid of flipping the car. Don't know why that'd cause it to flip, but the Prius does have those tiny little wheels and is designed for minimal air resistance rather than downforce.

They did say the brakes were burned all to hell on that car. I suppose the guy could have been stepping on the accelerator himself the whole time, but why would he do that?

Edit - I suppose the below posts answer that question pretty well. If two and two add up to "faked it", sounds like a pretty douchey thing to do.


March 15th, 2010 at 2:10 PM ^

In todays world I don't know what are facts and what is rumor. The line between The National Enquirer and The Wall Street Journal is getting thinner and thinner, but I heard on the radio this guy is broke out of his ass and hadn't made a payment on his Prius in 6 months. They cited some other problems he was having as well.

Seems like a pretty good candidate to make up a story like this.

Toyota has a lot of explaining to do for the cover up, but the amount of bogus law suits lining up will be ridiculous. Every guy that has been in an accident in the last 10 years that drives a Toyota is going to be coming out of the bushes.


March 15th, 2010 at 2:14 PM ^

Where is the line between the National Enquirer and the Freep.

Seems that there is some doubt, I won't say he is wrong yet but clearly something needs to be investigated.


March 15th, 2010 at 2:15 PM ^

who said the driver has no intention of filing a lawsuit and therefore the episode could not be a hoax.

A lawsuit is not the only way to benefit from a stunt like this. The driver could be short Toyota stock, or own Toyota put options. A non-Toyota dealer (or dealers) could have paid him.
A friend of mine who works at a non-Toyota dealership told me their traffic climbed 25-30% when the first Toyota reports hit the media.


March 15th, 2010 at 5:23 PM ^

He obviously could be doing it himself but some of those alternatives would be stupid to try. I have to think that if he or a friend shorted Toyota stock, it would probably get noticed, and it would probably violate securities law. There are plenty of stupid people our there who might try it but I'd be pretty surprised if that was actually what was happening.

tn wolverine

March 15th, 2010 at 4:01 PM ^

I couldn't agree with you more Blueloosh, I don't believe it for a second when it's an older driver. There was one in Connecticut where a 76 year old claimed her accelerator stuck and she crashed into her church. I believe her car was a Toyota Camry, I chalk that up to old driver with no business behind the wheel of a car. I worked at a large video chain (I won't give them any advertising because the bastards made me work on Christmas, but I digress) I was working one morning when an 80 year old woman in an old American car ran into the building nearly missing a lady trying to return her tapes, her excuse the always convenient "the accelerator stuck". The police officers and I looked at the accelerator and it wasn't even a little bit stuck. The problem was an 80 year old who didn't have any business driving. The police ticketed her and explained to her daughter when she picked her up that she shouldn't be driving because she was going to kill somebody. I'm not saying that there are no problems with Toyotas, I'm just saying when it's an oldster I take it with a grain of salt.

Steve in PA

March 15th, 2010 at 3:25 PM ^

First Ford Pintos were fireballs then the Audi thing. The lawyers went after Audi. I'm sure that soon with the bad medicine ads on late night TV, we'll be seeing sue Toyota.

I told my wife when it was on CNBC that I thought it was a fake. Why would it not happen for however long they've been making the Prius and now when there is a recall is happened?

Steve in PA

March 15th, 2010 at 4:23 PM ^

Complaints, yes...News footage of runaway cars, no. Just too strange how this is the first to make the news with footage and everything a jury would need to award damages.

I think it's an acceleration compliant not a runaway-can't-stop-or-slowdown prius.


March 15th, 2010 at 4:16 PM ^

I think that this guy with the prius might be making stuff up, and I agree that there are a lot of people driving who should not be, but there is definitely an Issue with Toyotas currently. The issue is not one with the actual pedal, but it's with their "drive-by-wire" technology. Their "fix" was to add more resistance to the system which is sticking gum over the leak in the dam. Yeah, may work, and it was cheap, but "fixed" cars are still running away.

If anyone would like a more detailed explanation of the drive-by-wire system and what goes into it, and why its failing, i'll go there, but i'm not planning on it right now.

I could bitch about this for hours, but as an engineer who drives stick, it amazes me that 1. Toyota could try to say it was the floor mats, then say its the pedal, and no one is really questioning the electronics (which is the problem), and 2. that people are too dumb to throw their cars into neutral.

/end mini rant

Clarence Beeks

March 15th, 2010 at 6:26 PM ^

"and 2. that people are too dumb to throw their cars into neutral."

I was just talking with my wife about this. Is there some reason electronically or mechanically that they can't shift the car into neutral, or is it just people panicking and not thinking of the most obvious solution? If I remember correctly, this has only happened with automatic transmission cars, right>


March 16th, 2010 at 8:55 AM ^

Yes, this only happens with Automatics, people with Stick Shift are in tune with their cars enough to clutch/throw it in neutral - also (back to my programming point) the ECU is programmed differently for a Stick vs. an Automatic.

In terms of the transmission - the Prius is a totally automatic trans, with no gear selectors but P-R-N-D, and it might be it's own beast, i'm not sure how that works. But for the majority of automatics there is a mechanical component (the gear selector). You can ALWAYS throw these into neutral (sometimes accidentally) and even if you couldn't, throw it into 3, 2 or 1/L, you CAN down-shift an automatic, and doing so causes your car to slow down.

I agree with the above poster, If everyone drove stick the world would be a better place - accelerate faster, decelerate faster, more control, better mileage, I have 2 vehicles, both stick shift. Unfortunately I don't think we're gonna convince 94% of Americans to be better drivers... I guess a guy can dream.

Zone Left

March 15th, 2010 at 4:45 PM ^

That guy sounds like the balloon boy family.

On a somewhat related note, the 24 hour news channels have started live coverage of multiple Toyota accidents everyday. Classic piling on.


March 15th, 2010 at 5:36 PM ^

... I'll tell you what the problem is.

News cycles. In this day and age, it is more important to be the first to report something, not the first to report something right. Nobody bothers to check these things until after the media blitz. Sure it comes out in the end, but nobody has the patience for that.