Report: Test can't re-create 'runaway' Prius

U.S. government memo says "runaway" Toyota incident in San Diego could not be replicated, according to an AP report.

Brooke Crothers Former CNET contributor
Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.
Brooke Crothers
2 min read

A U.S. government agency and Toyota could not replicate an alleged runaway Prius incident in San Diego, according to an Associated Press report.

Toyota Prius: Government could not replicate 'runaway' Prius incident.
Toyota Prius: Government could not replicate 'runaway' Prius incident.

On March 7, James Sikes called 911, saying the accelerator in his Prius was stuck and he couldn't slow down. The event was thought to be related to mechanical or electronic glitches that, in rare cases, may cause uncontrolled acceleration in the Toyota Prius.

But in a memo drafted for a congressional panel, technicians with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Toyota were unable to replicate the problem on Sikes' car, according to the AP report.

"Every time the technician placed the gas pedal to the floor and the brake pedal to the floor, the engine shut off and the car immediately started to slow down," the report said. The memo went on to say that it would not be likely that Sikes's gas pedal would be stuck while he was slamming on the brakes at the same time.

A similar conclusion was reached by Edmunds.com on Friday, which CNET reported based on an interview with Dan Edmunds, director of vehicle testing at Edmunds. The car Web site conducted a test on a Prius in an attempt to replicate the problem that Sikes had claimed.

"It doesn't add up," Edmunds told CNET on Friday. "I...held the throttle wide open with my right foot and then I pressed on the brakes with my left foot. When you overlap the brake and the throttle in that car, the engine decouples, and the brakes take over completely," he said.

Sikes had said on March 7 that he "pushed the gas pedal to pass a car and it did something kind of funny...it jumped and it just stuck there." Sikes added that he tried the brakes but this didn't stop the car.

Whether Sikes' account is completely accurate, there have been a number of other cases reported nationwide of unintended acceleration of the Toyota Prius, with some related allegedly to an electronic glitch. In a recent incident in Westchester County, New York, a Prius driver claimed that the car accelerated on its own and crashed into a stone wall.