By on February 25, 2010

Bashing the buff books is a regular exercise for we bitter car bloggers who are forced to earn a living writing about cars without manufacturer junkets, auto show swag, or a steady stream of the latest, hottest vehicles to test. And one has only to look at their circulation numbers to see that they probably deserve much of what they get. But in the midst of a media frenzy about sudden unintended acceleration in Toyota’s, would you believe that Car & Driver has actually made a contribution to the national discourse that’s worth more than a week’s supply of frenzied-yet-ultimately-inaccurate headlines? Believe it. Not only do the paper-and-ink guys prove that a V6 Camry can be braked from 100-0 at full throttle in under a hundred feet more than it can at no throttle, but they even explain how to control a car that experiences unintended acceleration. You know, besides suing the manufacturer or giving self-righteous testimony under oath, before congress. Now that is auto journalism.

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58 Comments on “What’s Wrong With This Picture: Who’s Bashing The Buff Books Now? Edition...”


  • avatar
    Alexdi

    I’d like to see what happens when they hold the car at 60 with the brakes for ten seconds, and then try to stop.

    “We also tried one go-for-broke run at 120 mph, and, even then, the car quickly decelerated to about 10 mph before the brakes got excessively hot and the car refused to decelerate any further. So even in the most extreme case, it should be possible to get a car’s speed down to a point where a resulting accident should be a low-speed and relatively minor event.”

    This is key: in a full panic stop from 120 with no prior brake use, the car never stopped. And if they’d let off at 10 MPH and let it accelerate to 60 again, the brakes probably wouldn’t have worked a second time at all. That’s a pretty sorry performance.

    • 0 avatar
      thirty-three

      But after panicking at 120 MPH, slowing to 10 MPH should give you the opportunity to start thinking clearly again. At that point you can shift into neutral or kill the engine and let the car coast to a stop.

    • 0 avatar
      YotaCarFan

      I’m not sure how it’s a “sorry performance” for the brakes of a car to be able to slow the car from 120 mph to 10 mph while the engine is running full-bore, but not be able to work a second time if the driver releases the brakes, allows the car to reach 60 mph, and then tries to stop again while at full throttle. Considering the speed limits in the US where the lawsuits are occurring are generally in the 65 mph range, trying to stop when going 120 mph is operating the car outside of it’s intended usage parameters. It’s reasonable to expect the driver to start braking well before the car hits 120 mph, and to not expect the driver to allow the car to re-accelerate to 60 mph after slowing to 10 mph the first time. After all, even with perfect brakes that never fail, most drivers will crash into something if put behind the wheel of a car moving at 120 mph.

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-Iron

      I don’t know the exact sequence of events, but the cop who died apparently smoked the brakes first. In my limited experience with them, I have found Toyota brakes to be appalling.

      @YotaCarFan-the reason the car in that case was going 100+ is because the throttle was stuck. I assume by this “After all, even with perfect brakes that never fail, most drivers will crash into something if put behind the wheel of a car moving at 120 mph.” you meant most of us American drivers, folks auf Duetschland go that fast routinely.

  • avatar
    tomLU86

    Car & Driver did a similar article on the Audi 5000 in summer 1987. It was a more thorough article in many respects, but made the same point–the brakes can stop the car.

  • avatar
    criminalenterprise

    Or you could just put in the clutch…

  • avatar

    Still, the margin is less than I expected w.r.t. speeding and stopping. I used to ride brakes without a second thought and never see a fade outside of the track environment on smaller cars like Neon (although once I ran down a dude in old Escort while descending from Yosemite by the shortcut; his brakes were visibly smoking by the bottom of the hill, mine were fine). This is worrying actually.

    • 0 avatar
      criminalenterprise

      Down the Old Priest Grade by chance?

      Most trouble I had was with a rented Mustang descending Mauna Kea’s observatory road. Had to keep it in low gear and brake sparingly.

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      Hold on a second: A family sedan’s brakes are powerful enough to bring it nearly to a full stop from 120 MPH while straining against 268 hp and you’re worried that the brakes aren’t powerful enough?

      To recap: you’re talking about a non-performance-oriented car already travelling nearly double the speed of most speed limits, and then fighting against the full force of the engine (a very powerful one, at that!), and the brakes still bring the car down to a jogging speed.

      What, exactly, would you like the brakes to be able to handle?!

  • avatar
    niky

    Actually heard about this a while back when all the ruckus first started.

    The fact that after a 120 mph stop, the brakes had faded still indicates that braking is not [b]useless[/b] when the throttle gets stuck wide open. And in that time, you’ll have lots of time to shift into neutral and/or kill the engine. Hell… if I were in a runaway car and down to 10 mph, I’d gladly slam into a guardrail just to end my ordeal.

  • avatar
    discoholic

    There was a similar incident to the one reported in France some years ago. Someboday was blasting down the motorway at over 120 mph (there’s a rather persuasively enforced 75 mph speed limit in France); when he was finally apprehended by the police after two hours or so, he claimed that the accelerator had been stuck. Renault, the manufacturer of the car in question, issued a furious press statement saying that a) even if that was true, the brakes could always stop the car and b) it’s always possible to kill the engine or shift into neutral. Basically, the manufacturer went as far as saying publicly that the man was a fraud.

    Which he was – as far as I know, he was jailed for his little stunt. So with all due respect to the lady who lost her family, her case
    a) has absolutely nothing to do with Toyota’s recall debacle because even if the driver of the Lexus was not at fault (which I sincerely doubt), the technical component in question here is the brakes rather than the throttle
    b) is blown out of all proportion by protectionist interests. Either the lady is trying herself to get as much money as possible out of Toyota, or she is being used by someone for the same purpose.

    I don’t mean to say that panicked drivers in runaway cars tend to make rational decision at a moment’s notice, but I do think instinct would basically tell any driver in such a situation to stomp on the brakes – hard. Which is why I think that most of the so-called accidents in connection with stuck throttles are Audi all over again – idiots (like the ones mixing up the accelerator and the brakes then) and frauds cashing in on the frenzy.

  • avatar
    pgcooldad

    Brakes cannot override an engine when a car is in mid air.

    “In 2004, a Las Vegas couple died after their 2002 Camry sped off the fourth floor of a garage. A son told NHTSA that witnesses saw it stop, then accelerate.”

    http://www.usatoday.com/money/autos/2010-02-01-toyotafreep01_ST_N.htm

    These test were done by professionals, in a straightaway, with no abstacles. I would like to see an everyday Joe or Jane, in the middle of a typical US major city freeway or road, with normal traffic, come up with these numbers. Not gonna happen! They are going to hit something, someone or be launched into the air. The Smith lady that testified was very lucky the engine finally slowed down on it’s own.

    The bottom line is this: If these are all driver errors, why aren’t we hearing about Ford, GM, Honda, Chrysler drivers having the same problem? Thousands of the exact same type of person killed on a runaway Toyota is driving a competitors vehicles right now.

    • 0 avatar
      YotaCarFan

      I would like to see an everyday Joe or Jane, in the middle of a typical US major city freeway or road, with normal traffic, come up with these numbers. Not gonna happen! They are going to hit something, someone or be launched into the air.

      Exactly, which is why these claims of unstoppable cars are bogus. There are ways to stop in normal traffic where obstacles exist, although they’re not pretty. If I was in a car going 100 mph with a stuck throttle and bad brakes on a crowded freeway, the first thing that would come into my mind would be to get behind a slower moving car/truck and use them as a “brake”.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryan Knuckles

      The vehicle will not accelerate whilst airborne, negating your point.

    • 0 avatar
      pgcooldad

      Ryan,
      The acceleration occured before going airborne.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      You aren’t hearing about it because the MSM is choosing not to report it. Consumer reports found that Toyota had 41% of UA claims in model year 2008. Ford had 28% (just 12 fewer claims). The rest (GM, Honda, Chyrsler, etc) carried the remaining 31%.

      The same MSM chose not to report an investigation opening on 1150 Cobalt steering claims but the 84 claims against the Corolla were headlines. Showing other manufacturer’s failings doesn’t move papers or generate web-clicks at this time. Any dirt on Toyota, though, is a goldmine.

    • 0 avatar
      210delray

      Sorry cooldad, but launching yourself out of a parking garage has all the hallmarks of stepping on the gas instead of the brake pedal: a witness saw the car stop, then accelerate.

      Of course, when you’re talking Vegas, there’s always the possibility of alcohol (and lots of it) being involved as well.

    • 0 avatar

      Actually, I heard about a Ford (2007 Mustang convertible) doing the accelerating. Supposedly it happened to a brother of a buddy. So it’s not just Toyota. BTW, the gent in question was able to stop it safely and shut if off.

    • 0 avatar
      nonce

      Brakes can always stop a car from accelerating from 0 mph. Unless the driver doesn’t press them.

      Brakes can fail, and accelerators can become stuck, but to get both problems at the same time is like being struck by lightning while winning the lottery.

    • 0 avatar
      pgcooldad

      “You aren’t hearing about it because the MSM is choosing not to report it. Consumer reports found that Toyota had 41% of UA claims in model year 2008. Ford had 28% (just 12 fewer claims). The rest (GM, Honda, Chyrsler, etc) carried the remaining 31%. ”

      Then Ford needs to be investigated also. But more importantly, what is GM’s UA claims. They have just as many or more cars on the road but get thrown in “the remaining 31%”. So what is that %, because if it is 20% (Honda and Chrysler being the remaining 11%) than TOYOTA has 100% more cases of UA than a comparible auto maker. That is very significant.

  • avatar
    don1967

    An interesting analysis. Rumour has it that as soon as Akio Toyoda read it, he immediately ordered a 10% cost reduction in Camry brakes.

  • avatar
    Hank

    I’d believe C&D did it. They did the same thing with an Explorer during that fiasco. They went out, bought a worn Explorer and blew the tires several times trying to get to to go crazy. Their conclusion was that most of the hype had more to do with driver error and people not understanding the particular dynamics of SUVs.

    • 0 avatar
      DweezilSFV

      Or knowing not to slam on the brakes when a tire blows out.

      AAA claimed that the greatest percentage of deaths [68-70%] are attributable to people too dull witted to put on their belts.

      Once more C&D unmasks the “nut behind the wheel” as the culprit, not the machinery. Again. Still.

      Glad TTAC recognized it. Maybe it will up C&D’s game…. or is Toyota one of their larger advertisers ???

  • avatar
    dswilly

    Clearly the smart thing to do is jump out at 10mph, how hard is that?

    • 0 avatar
      ott

      Nothing, except that you’ve now unleashed an out-of-control 2-ton glass and steel missile upon the world. At least you had some control over your vehicle while behind the wheel (miss the babystroller, go around the minivan full of kids, dodge the sweet old lady crossing the street), but what about the innocent bystanders that have absolutely no control over your vehicle? Jumping out is a bad (and selfish) idea; at least wait till you aim the car at a stand of trees or a lake!

    • 0 avatar
      fincar1

      “jump out at 10mph” thus lowering yourself to the level of all those guys you’ve seen doing that on Cops.

  • avatar
    Ryan Knuckles

    This is a mechanical failure of the gas pedal assembly, right? So, couldn’t your conceivably get your foot under the accelerator and pry up at some point?

    • 0 avatar
      210delray

      Not a good idea at 100+ mph. Not all shoes or boots will fit under a pedal, and there’d be the temptation to look down there to see what’s going on. I can’t even see my right foot from my normal seated position.

      Step hard on the brakes, shift to neutral, pull off the road, then shut down the engine. At that point you can check if there’s something jamming the accelerator.

  • avatar
    JohnAZ

    In every analysis/article I have seen about Toyota brakes being more powerful than their engines in normal testing, the conclusion is always drawn that in the reported UA incidents, it must have been operator error, because in theory the brakes would have stopped the car. Nowhere have I seen anyone say that the 2000+ people can’t all be wrong and THEREFORE, in the out-of-control situations, the braking power must have also been compromised.
    When this is all over, I’m sure there will be many Toyota apologists saying ‘Never mind’.

    • 0 avatar
      210delray

      True there are 2000+ complaints. But some are duplicates, some reflect axes to grind, some are outright lies, and some make for great comedy. All must be examined and all must ultimately stand on their own merits. NHTSA has the unenviable task of separating the wheat from the chaff.

      Remember the Edmunds.com analysis where Toyota was near the bottom in the ratio of complaints of all kinds to the number of vehicles on the road? Not surprisingly, Land Rover was #1. Edmunds found it was not possible to rank the complaints by severity of the problem. Consumer Reports found that the number of Ford sudden acceleration complaints were not that far behind Toyota’s.

  • avatar
    chuckR

    All in all, a pretty good short article that most people will never see. It would be interesting to know more about the brakes in the Roush. Are the pads race pads, for example. It would also have been worthwhile to purge and replace the brake juice in each car with a reasonable substitute because the testers probably don’t know how long or what grade was in the lines. In the case of the Roush, that would be something like Motul 600 – just buy a little more and do all three with the same stuff. Ditto brake pad replacement, although its fair to run what they came with, initially.

  • avatar
    crash sled

    I guess Car and Driver isn’t taking advertising revenue from the trial lawyer lobby. What else could explain this bit of honest and sensible reporting?

  • avatar

    Some of the “solutions” in these comments exemplify how people often don’t react well to unintended acceleration.

    Hitting another moving car to stop?

    Jumping out of the car? And the car then goes where?

    Many people simply aren’t good problem solvers when the problem isn’t one they’re familiar with.

    • 0 avatar
      PickupMan

      +1 Michael

      Even thinking in advance about how you might solve a problem is a big help if stuff hits the fan.

      For most folks, lulled into complacency behind the wheel, full-bore ‘brain lock’ is more likely than rational thought in a 1-in-a-million SUI event.

  • avatar
    sean362880

    There’s something fishy with C&D’s results. The G37 stops in the same distance from 100 MPH, throttle full vs. throttle closed (326 ft vs. 320 ft, probably not statistically significant).

    The G37 either has absolutely heroic brakes, or their testing methodology was flawed.

    • 0 avatar
      210delray

      Good catch, but nothing fishy! The Infiniti (along with all Nissan models) has a brake-throttle override, so when you step on the brakes, the engine goes back to idle speed. (Presumably, there is some threshold on braking when this occurs — sometimes you’d like to brake lightly and accelerate at the same time, as when driving out of deep water to dry the brakes.)

    • 0 avatar
      WEGIV

      210delray beat me to it…
      Read the article, then comment :-)
      from the article: Since the advent of electronic throttle control, many automakers have added software to program the throttle to close—and therefore cut power—when the brakes are applied. Cars from BMW, Chrysler, Nissan/Infiniti, Porsche, and Volkswagen/Audi have this feature, and that’s precisely why the G37 aced this test. Even with the throttle floored and the vehicle accelerating briskly, stabbing the brakes causes the engine’s power to fade almost immediately, and as a result, the Infiniti stops in a hurry.

    • 0 avatar
      sean362880

      210delay – Alright, I’d buy the throttle-brake overide argument. I retract by objection to C&D’s testing chops.

      DougD – The energy balance argument (while true) can’t be the whole story, since a G37 convertible weighs MORE than a Camry.

      G37 – 4100 lbs
      Camry V6 – 3500 lbs

    • 0 avatar
      nonce

      Even my I-series Infiniti from the last century cuts the RPMs drastically if I’m coasting and just tap the brakes. Not as much as shifting into neutral. I need to find a safe place to test hitting both pedals.

  • avatar
    DougD

    Sean, think about this from and energy balance perspective rather than a force balance perspective.
    To stop the car under full throttle, the brakes must absorb the kinetic energy of the car plus whatever energy is generated by the motor during the deceleration.
    A 4000 pound car travelling at 120mph has a load of kinetic energy (sorry don’t have time for actual figures) that the brakes must absorb. Now if the car can normally stop in 10 or 15 seconds, the brakes must additionally absorb as much energy as the motor can generate DURING THAT SHORT TIME, and that energy is much smaller than the kinetic energy of the car. That’s why the stopping distances aren’t much different, except for the Roush Mustang which I assume puts out gobs of horsepower which changes the energy balance significantly.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Car & Driver engaged in an intended acceleration exercise; helmeted driver, protective clothing, closed circuit, assistance available, in a planned endeavor and fully aware there is minimum risk would reduce the panic the prospect of being maimed or worse might induce.

    Interesting, but largely irrelevant to unintended acceleration in urban traffic with vulnerable family members aboard.

    • 0 avatar
      210delray

      But the first instinct of many people in an emergency situation is to jam on the brakes. This happens to be the correct thing to do in this case.

      And most modern cars have Brake Assist, which automatically applies full braking power when it senses a sudden, hard stab on the brake pedal. This should make it even easier to “do the right thing.”

    • 0 avatar
      DougD

      Not so on two counts:
      Acceration has nothing to do with it, C&D did an Intended Deceleration test.
      They were testing the vehicle response, which requires controlled conditions. If they were testing the driver response, yes that could be a different animal.

  • avatar
    210delray

    I just tried this little exercise yesterday in my ’04 Camry 4-cylinder, but at 40 mph. With right foot buried on the throttle and then stepping hard with left foot on the brakes, the car easily stops against the straining engine, and the transmission downshifts hard in the process. I don’t have anywhere to try this at 100 mph though…at least without a friendly visit from the local constabulary!

  • avatar
    WEGIV

    One thing they didn’t mention that I’m curious about…
    Most brakes (except hybrid motor/gen braking) are still vacuum-boosted, right? Other than Mercedes, I can’t think of anyone that really got far with the electro/hydraulic braking systems.
    On the cars without a throttle cutoff, I’m wondering how much of a difference the loss of vacuum assist due to the fact that there’s very little vacuum at WOT would make. I’m sure it doesn’t matter as much as brake fluid boil due to fade, but probably doesn’t help, especially if the driver uses the brakes more than once (usually there’s enough pressure for one assisted stop without vacuum).

    The other thing I’d call into question on this test is the age of the cars in question. Brake fluid is hygroscopic, so over time it absorbs water, which I would think would make old fluid more sensitive to heat fade (water boils faster than brake fluid). Maybe it’s not a really huge difference unless the fluid is 5+ or 10+ years old, but I’m sure that there’s a difference between a press fleet car that’s relatively factory-fresh and something that’s been on the road a while.

  • avatar
    210delray

    WEGIV, you are correct about the brake boost issue. After one hard pump of the brakes at WOT, virtually all assist is gone. You will really have to stand on the brakes for a second pump. Lesson: hit the brakes hard the first time and let Brake Assist kick in (if you have it). Do not let up. But you can also shift into neutral — modern car engines have rev limiters.

    With respect to old fluid, most of the suspect cars are relatively new (2007 models or later), so I wouldn’t expect this to be a significant issue. Interesting though that Toyota doesn’t include brake fluid changes as part of normal maintenance (along with the Detroit3 and some other Asian automakers). I believe all of the Europeans do.

  • avatar
    trk2

    I would rather know how long at 60 mph a person can ride the brakes before the brakes fade to the point where it does become impossible to stop a vehicle running at WOT. I don’t think the average driver’s first response to a sudden acceleration is to quickly bring the vehicle to an immediate stop, particularly if the driver is on a busy highway. Honestly, who is going to respond by slamming on the brakes and bringing the vehicle to an immediate stop if they are in the middle of a four lane highway, or in a tunnel, or a bridge.

    The driver is going to use the brake to maintain speed while trying to diagnose/fix the issue while also searching for a safe area to bring the vehicle to a stop. What would be more helpful to know is the approximate time a driver has before they reached that event horizon, and whether that is sufficient time for most drivers to process all the information and make the proper decisions.

    • 0 avatar
      210delray

      …Honestly, who is going to respond by slamming on the brakes and bringing the vehicle to an immediate stop if they are in the middle of a four lane highway, or in a tunnel, or a bridge.

      The driver is going to use the brake to maintain speed while trying to diagnose/fix the issue while also searching for a safe area to bring the vehicle to a stop…

      Yes slamming on the brakes at the wrong place could result in disaster. But if your brakes should fade while trying to maintain speed, you could shift from drive to neutral (and repeat as necessary), as that level-headed guy did in New Jersey on busy I-78 (and was subsequently interviewed by ABC). He managed to drive his accelerating Lexus right to a Toyota dealership! Those rare 3-pedal drivers have an additional option — step on the clutch.

      I think this is the sole validated case on record where unwanted engine acceleration occurred without interfering mats or a sticky gas pedal.

    • 0 avatar
      mwood10

      I think this is the key point and the major flaw in C&D’s experiments that makes them worthless as anything other than a how-to guide.

      I think most people’s first response to UA, when driving on a busy highway is going to be to bring the speed down to a manageable level, and not slam on the brakes and bring the car to a complete stop. Regardless of the cause of the UA, I think it is highly likely that the average driver is also going to be dealing with useless brakes due to fade and vacuum loss.

      Can TTAC run an experiment that tests how quickly the brakes fade if you ride the brakes at WOT to maintain 60mph?

    • 0 avatar
      dkulmacz

      mwood10,

      Well, they could, but then they’d end up driving in a car going 60 mph with no brakes. Probably not the best idea . . .

  • avatar
    CarPerson

    Car and Driver proved an experienced driver using the proper technique can stop a car with well-functioning brakes experiencing a wide open throttle. In itself, this is worthwhile information. Many of us who have taken apart brakes where the pads came out in carbon chunks would have bet against this being the case at 120mph with full throttle.

    Repeat the test then immediately proceed to do it a second time with little time for the brakes to cool. This represents a driver repeatedly pressing and releasing the brakes as the speed continues to climb then finally, after the brakes are smoking hot, gets the idea to stomp and hold firmly. As others above have predicted, there will be far less braking power. What you get it slowed to will be momentary as the brakes continue to fade and speed picks back up again.

    BTW, sometimes you DO want to give it a little throttle when stepping on the brake, like when starting on steep grade when the light turns green. The interlocks should be set high enough to allow this.

    If the interlocks return the engine to idle, is should reset immediatly when either the brake or throttle is released. Throw an error code if it floats your boat but I want control back immediately.

    Someone mentioned the engine should shut down if both the brake and throttle are simultaneously sensed: DON’T EVEN THINK IT.

  • avatar
    NickR

    One has only to look at the various youtube videos of teenaged (usually) dufouses doing burnouts in their dads S63s and Bentleys to know that a modern cars brakes are a match and then some for the car’s power. (I doubt all those kids installed line lock on their parent’s cars.)

  • avatar
    ohiomax

    The truth is that the vast majority of drivers are poorly skilled and not properely trained. People seem to remember you need to push on the brakes hard in some situtions and your seat has to be positioned to allow you to depress the pedal more than half an inch. Simple things such as seat placement, think about it, people of size sit back but can they push the pedal more than a fraction of an inch with any force in a panic situation?
    Wait for congress to raise this question. Based on speed limits, every car should be governed at 80mph max, not legal reason to go faster . I don’t want to hear well I can drive faster because blah blah, its the law, congress needs to enforce so engine limits. Now after congress sets engine limtie, why does your average sedan need 250+hp, na drop that down to 120max governement limit, its a win-win congress saves lives and helps government motors meet cafe limits, (Ha ha) now relish the drive home where you can drive as crazy as you like as fast as you like.

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    I thought that as a great piece by Car and Driver. I should add that I’ve enjoyed many of the changes that Eddie Alterman has made at the magazine.

    Back to the topic, though, I do have to wonder if the Audi debacle could have been on the minds of some of the NHTSA folks when the complaints about UA started coming in. The agency seems, in hindsight, to have been much too quiet about the results of their actual findings in that case until long after the damage had been done to Audi’s reputation. I have to assume that the physics demonstrated in the C and D article could also have made some folks at Toyota too quick to write off such complaints as “loose nuts behind the wheel” as well. But this is complete conjecture on my part.

    One key difference between Audi and Toyota is that in this case there apparently IS a defect causing unintended engine acceleration… and Toyota has acknowledged this. In the Audi case, there apparently was no mechanical issue with the accelerator pedal, just one with over zealous trial lawyers and shoddy journalism by 60-Minutes.

    Some other general thoughts that come to my mind in this situation:

    1- My kids will definitely learn to drive on my manual transmission cars… I want them to understand what’s happening under the hood and how to control the car.

    2- I hope that manual transmissions don’t go completely the way of the Dodo bird. Having a clutch pedal to engage would be a really quick way to stop unintended acceleration… in fact I’ve never heard of any such claims from cars with 3 pedals… is it more engaged drivers or simply fewer computer overrides?

    3- I can understand how all of these computer controlled drive-by-wire systems help improve fuel economy and reduce manufacturing cost, but have we reached the point of diminishing returns and unintended consequences? Are computer failures too much of a risk relative to their benefits?

    4- How many of the drivers on the road have had ANY serious form of driver training beyond parallel parking and using turn signals? I got my license at 16 and got a fairly comprehensive driver training class through my high school before hand. But, I also read the buff books religiously since I was 12 and at least had an interest in learning about the physics behind cars that helped to balance some of my inherent incompetence and stupidity at that age.

    I’ve since taken additional classes, from motorcycle training and racing to some high-performance driving classes. I’m still never going to say that I’m a great driver (I relate to Captain Slow on Top Gear pretty well) but these classes have given me a great appreciation for the limits of my cars and myself. I’m much more aware and careful on the street as a result… primarily as a result of riding motorcycles for so long. If I can afford it, my sons will attend some advanced teen driving courses by the likes of Skip Barber or Bob Bondurant before they drive off alone.

    As a result of continuous budget cuts, do public schools still offer multi-week on-road driver training like they used to? Despite all of the chatter by organizations like the IIHS about safety gadgets in cars, why haven’t they pushed for (or sponsored) more and better driver training… perhaps the most effective active safety device I can think of?

  • avatar
    SecretAznMan

    Anyone have a link to that video clip of the Camry that backs up and on top of a police cruiser? The one where the thing is on the rev limiter while up in the air? Wonder what the driver might be saying now after all this stuff with stuck accelerators.

  • avatar
    Steven02

    I think people have missed some of the points here. In a controlled test, when the brakes are applied fully at first, sure they can slow the car down. But when people pump the brakes, or don’t fully press them hard from the beginning, what will happen? This test doesn’t mean anything to the driver who isn’t expecting the problem. It doesn’t include the time a driver is going to take on making the decision of what they are going to do next. I do not think that a defect on a car that isn’t properly responded to by should kill people.

    There have also been reports of this happening when people let off the brake at a stop light and in a garage. What are you going to do when that happens? It isn’t like there is a lot of time to put the car into neutral before you hit someone.

    On the comparisons with Ford and Toyota on the complaints and the percentages…

    The comparison by Consumer Reports was for 1 model year.
    http://blogs.consumerreports.org/cars/2009/12/sudden-unintended-acceleration-sua-analysis-2008-toyota-lexus-ford-gm/comments/page/2/
    While it doesn’t say that Ford does or doesn’t have a problem, it would be good to know how this compares to the 2000 reports of Toyota UA problems over the past decade.

    Back to the article though, these tests don’t prove how the average driver reacts. If the average driver pumps the brakes, doesn’t shift to neutral, or doesn’t turn the car off, we probably have failed in educating drivers. But that doesn’t mean that the car manufacture shouldn’t be sued. There are instances where the car accelerates and you don’t have time to do something before there is damage that is caused. The bottom line, there are defects in these cars. That is why Toyota is getting sued and should be sued. The defect set things in motion.

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  • Jeff S: I will not buy a Tesla product either. As much as I don’t like GM and Ford I would trust either of them...

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  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber