How to Stop a Runaway Toyota

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Toyota owners afraid of crashing due to sudden, unexpected acceleration problems may be able to prevent a collision using certain maneuvers, according to one safety expert.

If a car suddenly accelerates, the driver should brake hard, shift into neutral or depress the clutch, then turn off the ignition when the car has come to a full stop, public safety expert John Banzhaf says.

Consumer Reports has also noted that drivers of runaway vehicles should apply firm and steady pressure to the brake pedal with both feet.

Toyota (Stock Quote: TM) has recalled about 8.5 million vehicles worldwide due to dangerous acceleration problems, according to the Associated Press, but repairs meant to address the problem may not actually be effective, some reports say.

In one recent case of sudden acceleration in a Toyota vehicle, a California man was able to slow his 2008 Prius from about 94 miles per hour to about 50 miles per hour by using the brake and the parking brake at the same time, according to The Wall Street Journal. Putting the car in neutral and turning off the ignition didn’t work, the Journal reported. The driver’s floor mats, which were at the center of a separate recall, were apparently not a cause of the problem.

“Indeed, if drivers act suddenly in panic, they might think that turning off the ignition would help by stopping the engine, but this maneuver could be very dangerous for several reasons,” says Banzhaf. "If the engine is suddenly shut off, the driver might lose both power-assisted steering and braking, making it impossible to avoid an accident.”

Another recent report involved an out-of-control 2005 Toyota Prius in suburban New York that accelerated unexpectedly when a woman was exiting her driveway, causing the car to crash into a stone wall, the Associated Press said. According to the report, the vehicle’s floor mats were secured.

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