Consumer Fraud

Prius drivers continue to experience sudden acceleration

Another Toyota Prius that had already been serviced under the floor mat recall accelerated suddenly Wednesday when its owner, a 56-year-old New York housekeeper, was leaving a driveway.

Police in the town of Harrison, New York, just north of New York City, say that the 2005 silver-gray Prius accelerated suddenly, shot across the street, and careened into a stone wall. According to police at the scene, the woman was fortunate to have escaped serious injury because damage to the car was extensive. Investigators haven’t been able to determine yet how fast the car might have been traveling when it collided with the wall.

Police at the scene said the woman was not disoriented in any way and nothing about the crash suggested driver error. The driver said that she had stepped on the gas pedal just a little as she was about to pull out of the driveway when the car suddenly took off.

According to the Associated Press, a regional Toyota official wanted to take possession of the car but the police weren’t prepared to release it. Captain Anthony Marraccini of the Harrison Police Department told the AP that he thought federal investigators should investigate first.

“This involved potentially a great safety hazard and could be something of national interest,” Capt. Marraccini told the AP.

The New York incident was just one of a growing number of sudden unintended acceleration incidents being reported by Toyota drivers, despite the recall repairs.

Last Friday, an employee of a San Diego dealership was driving his 2006 Lexus IS 350 when he tapped the gas pedal to hurry through a yellow light. When he removed his foot, however, the car continued to accelerate. The driver shifted to neutral and stepped on the accelerator pedal three times before the engine stopped racing. That car is being held until federal investigators can examine it next week.

On Monday, James Sikes was driving his 2008 Prius on Interstate 8 near San Diego Monday when the car suddenly accelerated to speeds approaching 100 mph. After 20 minutes of racing along the highway at harrowing speeds, Sikes was able to bring his car to stop with the help of a highway patrol officer who drove alongside him, suggesting ways to slow the vehicle through a loudspeaker. The floor mat was found properly secured in Sikes’ Prius and thus incapable of jamming the gas pedal.