Toyota Runaway Acceleration

My apologies if this question has already been answered.

I’ve read that the dramatic runaway Lexus crash last year was an experienced Highway Patrol officer. In the newspaper, one person said “If he couldn’t control the car, who could.”

My question: In these newer computer-controlled cars, will putting the automatic transmission into neutral or turning the ignition off not work?

The Highway Patrol officer had time to call 911, I’m sure he would have thought of that. Can the car’s computer override the ignition switch? Can the car keep running even with the ignition turned off?

What can the driver do if his car accelerates out of control? I have a 2002 300-series Lexus.

Put it in neutral.

Putting it in neutral would have worked.
There is no ignition switch on this model, only a start/stop button. Apparently, he didn’t know that you have to hold the start/stop button down for three seconds to kill the engine if the car is in motion.

Shifting to neutral is the correct thing to do. Neutral allows you to steer and brake, and when the car is off to the side of the road you can then turn off the ignition.

The engine may spin at red line the whole time, but so what? It won’t over-rev and destroy itself.

The computer can’t over ride the ignition. Off is off.

Shutting off the engine deprives you of steering and brakes. Shift to neutral and pull off the road. Then turn it off.

Regardless of the car, highway patrol officers are supposed to get emergency training in vehicle control. I got such training 50 years ago when working for a public gas utility.

Any patrolman who could not have simply 1) put the car in neutral, 2) turned off the ignition should be put on FOOT PATROL.

As a bystander, never having been in that situation, I can say only that knowing what to do and doing it are two completely different things. When I was training as a cop at the state police academy, training as an emergency vehicle operator during war time in the military, I never once remember “practicing” placing an automatic in neutral while traveling at high speed.

As a former coach, I can only reiterate the point that teaching without practice is worse than not teaching at all. It clutters the mind in emergency situations with extraneous thoughts when definitive execution in proper sequence is required.

I can easily defend the PO involved in the crash if I’ve never walked in his shoes.
Any one in the military, knows that their lives can often be saved by proper reaction with little time to think in these deadly situations.

If you want to know how easy it is, gun your car on the freeway to over 60 mph, hold the accelerator and slip it into neutral and do it enough so it’s natural. I guarantee, the first few times you do it, you will find that it’s not a natural act, almost akin to jumping out of a perfectly good airplane w/o the same results of course. Especially true when you notice how close neutral is to PARK your entire driving lives. And you’re going to practice almost destroying your transmissions ?

As stated by Whitey, you may see manual shifters at a distinct advantage. They’re always depressing the clutch while moving. I hope that stands some of us in good stead.
Practice makes permanent.

In my training we actually had to practice these things.

A different emergency occurred to me long ago going downhill towards a T intersection on a state highway going through a city. A rear leaf spring broke on my car, and cut the brake line, rendering the brakes useless. This was a manual shift Chevy without the dual braking system. I shifted into second (column shift, straight up) and turned the ignition off. This provided enough engine braking to slow me down. I pulled the dash-mounted handbrake sufficently to slow to a crawl and steer the car onto the sidewalk and stopped it there.

If I had panicked we would have run straight into an office building at the bottom of the intersection and both me and my parents who were in the car, would likely have been killed in this car without seatbelts.

I understand the average person being confused, but professionals need thorough training in dealing with emergencies. The US Cavalry surely had to know how to deal with a panicked and runaway horse!

I think you as well hit upon “Whitey’s” observation…the manual transmission lends itself to automobile function awareness perhaps more so than the “life long” user of the automatic. I commend you for your quick, life saving response.

The other thing I’m a big fan of, is just what we are doing here. Studies I’ve read have indicated that correct responses occur more often in people who at least take the time to discus and talk about the situation. A mental practice if you will that I hope helps we participants. I’m a believer in forums like this and the role they play in saving lives and preventing injury.

BTW, I like your reference as it reminds me that I was a member of a reenactment militia company. We were well aware of the more than 50% of ill prepared recruits who lost hands, eyes and had other severe injuries while mishandling their black powder weapons in some early original battles. In those days, the better trained often won wars, not because they killed the most enemy, but killed or maimed the fewest of each other. Statistics were not in favor of surviving a runaway horse during battle w/o injury. That’s why I stayed in the cannon crew…the safest place to be.

“think you as well hit upon “Whitey’s” observation…the manual transmission lends itself to automobile function awareness” Where did you see Whitey’s comment? It isn’t on my page.

We are told: "Simply brake with 2 feet, put the car into neutral then turn the engine off."
MAY NOT BE SO SIMPLE! Watch these video clips:

(after putting car in neutral and unable to turn off engine!!!)



and the CA crash:
“911 Call Released from Crash that Prompted Initial Toyota/Lexus Floor Mat Recall”
(with California Highway Patrolman driving unable to stop vehicle)

"Witnesses saw flames coming from the front and rear tires of the speeding 2009 Lexus ES 350 before it crashed Aug. 28 in Santee, suggesting ?long, constant heavy braking,? said Sgt. Scott Hill, the lead sheriff’s investigator. "

"Toyota Recalls Spur Worries"