Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Accident Involving Prius

The California Highway Patrol officer who responded to an emergency call about a runaway Toyota Prius described the driver as visibly shaking and said he "appeared to be in shock" once the car came to a stop, according to the police report released Wednesday.

The Prius' driver, Jim Sikes, called 911 on March 8 after he said his accelerator became stuck as he tried to pass a slower vehicle. In the police report, responding Officer Todd Neibert said he "could smell the heated brakes which indicated they had been used extensively" and said he saw the brake lights periodically illuminate as he came upon the car.

Prius Accessories:
Eventually, Neibert used the patrol car's public address system to instruct Sikes to apply the brakes and the emergency brake at the same time. "The driver ... was visibly shaking and breathing deeply," the report said. Upon searching the car, Neibert found "a large amount of brake dust and brake pad material in and around the wheels," the report said.

David Justo of Toyota Motor Sales headquarters, described in the memo as Toyota's residential hybrid expert, said that if the gas pedal of the car was stuck to the floor, and the driver applied the brake, the engine would shut down.

The memo said before Sikes' vehicle could be tested, technicians had to replace rotors, brakes and pads, as the pads and rotors were worn down.
Early evidence points to driver error as the reason a 2005 Prius sped into a stone wall on March 9, according to federal investigators.
The statement suggests the driver may have been stepping on the accelerator, instead of the brake, as she told police.

Investigators from Toyota and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration inspected the wrecked 2005 Prius on Wednesday and extracted data from the car's event data recorder.

No other cars were involved in the accident. Police said the driver, whose name has not been released pending the investigation, has a clean driving record.

A team of six inspectors from Toyota and two from NHTSA spent several hours taking photos, measurements and downloading the black box data from the car, which has been at the Harrison Police Department since the accident.

The 2005 Prius was part of Toyota's November recall to address the risk of pedal entrapment in the floor mat.

Summarized from CNN

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