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California Highway Patrol Unit Aids Driver of Out-of-Control Prius

Mar 9, 2010 | Parker Waichman LLP

According to a report on ABC News, a California Highway Patrol unit was dispatched Monday in response to a 911 call from a motorist driving a  Toyota Prius who said his vehicle had unexpectedly accelerated on an interstate in San Diego County. James Sikes, the owner of the vehicle, told ABC News that his 2008 Prius hit speeds as high as 94 mph before he was able to slow it down.

Twenty miles after the incident began, a California Highway Patrol car pulled alongside the Prius and began giving Sikes instructions over his public address system to used his brakes and his emergency brake to slow the car down, ABC News said. The car finally slowed to 55 mph, and Sikes was – after several attempts – able to turn it off via the ignition button.

The patrolman who came to Sikes’ rescue told ABC News he “could smell his brakes” when he pulled along side the Prius. For his part, Sikes said he was literally standing on his brakes in an attempt to slow the Prius down.

Since last fall, Toyota has recalled 6 million vehicles in the U.S. for problems involving sudden acceleration. The recalls started in September, when Toyota announced it was recalling and replacing floor mats on approximately 4.2 million vehicles which were allegedly causing accelerator pedals in the vehicles to become stuck in the depressed position, leading to uncontrollable and rapid acceleration of the vehicle. On January 21, Toyota recalled 2.3 million vehicles due to accelerator pedals on those vehicles becoming stuck in a depressed position, causing unexpected and unsafe acceleration.

The 2008 Prius detailed in the ABC News report was included in the floor mat recall. But its driver, 61-year-old James Sikes, maintains there was nothing wrong with his floor mats. Sikes told ABC News that he had received a recall notice – for what he did not specify – but when he took his vehicle to his dealer, he was told his Prius was not on the recall list.

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