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In New York, another runaway Prius

Toyota cars seem to be on the run.

For the second time this week, a Toyota Prius driver reported that a car accelerated on its own. This report came on Tuesday from a woman in suburban New York who said her car accelerated on its own, then lurched down a driveway, across a road and into a stone wall.

When the car hit the wall, the airbags in the 2005 Prius deployed. Harrison Police Capt. Anthony Marraccini said the driver — a 56-year-old woman — did not suffer serious injury. On Monday, a Prius driver on a California highway reported his car was speeding uncontrollably. He managed to stop after a highway patrol officer broadcast advice over his loudspeaker.

The runaway cars come as Toyota has recalled more than 8 million vehicles around the world, including about 6 million in the U.S., because of acceleration problems in several of its models.
The Harrison police captain said that “the impact with the wall was pretty substantial,” adding that some stones from the wall were found 10 feet away.

Marraccini said it didn’t appear that floor mats appeared to be a factor in the accident. The police kept the car for investigation. Toyota said it did not know whether it will also investigate.

-- Dana Hedgpeth

By Sarah Halzack  |  March 10, 2010; 10:59 AM ET
Categories:  Autos  | Tags: prius, runaway prius, toyota  
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This reminds me of an old joke. A New York bus with one passenger is rear ended by a taxi. The paramedics are called. By the time they arrive there are forty people standing around complaining of back injuries. It's rather disconcerting that the media is so quick to report these alleged cases of runaway cars without due diligence to make sure they're really not hoaxes.

One would think that after only recently being gamed by a Runaway Balloon Boy they would be sensitive to being used by people who might be seeking fame and/or (more likely or) fortune from an auto company that's easy to hate (easy to hate to because their success was driven by quality, aka "satisfied customers", rather than political lobbying.)

Posted by: Josey2006 | March 10, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Maybe we can buy a New Prius cheap now. It's a no brainer, it shouldn't be difficult to put a kill switch in, like on motorcycles., have the switch near the start button, call it the STOP button.


Posted by: Flenzoro | March 10, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Yes, I agree with Josey2006. I think we have some bogus claims for publicity and law suit action going on now.

SF Chronicle blog videos show how easy it is to stop the Prius in a number of different ways.

I don't own a Toyota but either these drivers are real idiots or profiteers or both.

Posted by: vanzal1 | March 10, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Reason points to a faulty acceleration problem. Probably computer related.

Posted by: Racehorse | March 10, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

When you stop a car via unconventional methods you can lose control of steering and brakes.

Example: Driving down a busy SF street with pedestrians. Car accelerates. Turn off car. Acceleration will stop but cars momentum continues moving potentially into intersection.

If you're really quick you might be able to pull off the unconventional stop but odds are you'll panic and just keep trying to hit the brakes.

I've tried the unconventional method for practice and it's scary even on a deserted road.

Posted by: Racehorse | March 10, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

56 year old woman driving a Prius.

Think about that.

And you're stating that she drove her car into a wall for publicity or a lawsuit. Get real ya dicks.

Posted by: Racehorse | March 10, 2010 5:19 PM | Report abuse

One of the big criticisms or image problems with the early Prius was that it wouldn't have the acceleration of a traditional vehicle.

Then people drove them and discovered wow these things have really got some quick pickup.

Maybe they went too far to prove the critics wrong.

Posted by: Racehorse | March 10, 2010 5:27 PM | Report abuse

I didn't know that a Prius would reach 90. BUT AT LEAST WE'RE GREEN!!!!!

Posted by: sillynewsdude | March 10, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Oh yes Josey2006, these people are killing themselves to help GM, Ford and Chrysler's sales. Will you get a clue, Toyota's made a deathtrap and it is doing it's job, killing people. Just because you might do something deceitful like you suggested, doesn't mean others will.

Posted by: Kudzu1 | March 10, 2010 8:07 PM | Report abuse

Why does the news not ever report on the financial status of the drivers? This guy Jim (James) Sikes had not made payment on his Prius for months, owes back taxes on winning $55,000 in the KY lottery and is about bankrupt. No wonder he wants to get some free air times to and lawsuit. His real estates busines is going broke! Just google his name and you can see....

Posted by: Bobby544 | March 10, 2010 10:21 PM | Report abuse

At least someone is practicing journalism...

Excerpt from article by 10News in San Diego investigating about Runaway Prius drive Jim Sikes:

"Runaway Prius Driver Faces Questions As Probe Begins" -

"10News uncovered files from Sikes' 2008 Chapter 7 bankruptcy..."

"...According to his bankruptcy records, he [Jim Sikes] had a $700,000 debt. Additionally, his debts included two homes he was upside down to the tune of $240,000. He had credit card debt to deal with, including $12,000 owed to Bank of America, $38,000 owed to Citibank and $15,000 owed to Discover."

Posted by: Josey2006 | March 10, 2010 10:45 PM | Report abuse

Rule of law, freedom of expression/speech/press, human rights, personal liberty are some of the fundamentals of any democratic society and the US is the very symbol of that. In order to protect our rights and uphold the spirit of the constitution, each and every citizen has a resposibility to make an effort to be well informed about the issues that effect us all. Similarly, the press/media has the vital responsibilty of providing responsible and accurate information for the public at large. It is worrisome to see that the media as a whole is moving away from responsible journalism and becoming more inclined towards sensationalism as has been demonstrated by this TOYOTA WITCHHUNT and this ridiculous Prius hoax clearly perpetrated by a con artist(SIKES). I am deeply disappointed that the mass media for it's part has not given enough coverage regarding the hoax(it's all over the internet)particularly since it(the media) so eagerly participated in reporting the purported runaway Prius story. It's time for responsible journalism.

Posted by: interlopert | March 13, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

The press should report news. This is news. Reporting it is responsible. Sikes' bankruptcy may or may not have anything to do with his claims. We don't know and to jump to a conclusion is irresponsible.

Additionally, if the electronic problem is intermittent, the Toyota engineers may not have been able to replicate it. It may take a statistically large enough sample to replicate it - and that clearly did not occur with a short test.

There is no doubt that Toyota is eager to discredit any drivers complaining of problems. And THAT should concern us.

I know I won't buy a Toyota anytime soon.

Posted by: jgwlaw | March 16, 2010 9:00 PM | Report abuse

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