Prius Highway Incident Disputed
Just over a week ago, reports surfaced that a Toyota Prius driver in San Diego was driving along a highway when his car became unresponsive. Police were called and helped stop the vehicle.
In a press conference today, however, Toyota officials said they found significant inconsistencies in the driver's story. Toyota had engineers on hand to answer technical questions of reporters, who were also given test drives.
"To say this situation was sensationalized would be an enormous understatement," Mike Michels, a Toyota spokesman, said.
The driver in question, James Sikes, called 911 to report his Prius was out of control and that the accelerator pedal didn't respond. A cop caught up with Sikes as he drove up to 90 miles an hour.
Toyota officials inspected the car as well as did the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. However, a report over the weekend indicated they didn't find anything wrong either.
Despite the discrepancies in the drivers story, Toyota disclosed one potential issue: indication that he car's brakes were severely damaged from overheating, which would confirm Sikes' story. Also, according to the USA TODAY, there was an indication in one system that the brakes and accelerator had been pushed alternately, as if he were having trouble. But other than that, Michels said the Toyota probe of the Prius has found:
- The accelerator pedal is operating normally.
- The push button start/stop button shut down the car when it was depressed continuously for three seconds as it was designed to do.
- The neutral position on the transmission is clearly marked with a big N.
- There were no trouble codes in the car's computer.
- The car is designed in a way that the brake pedal and accelerator can't work at the same time.