Testing Stuck Accelerator Survival Strategies

The recent recall of millions of Toyotas due to their floor mats’ unfortunate tendency to trap the cars’ accelerators, a flaw which has caused at least one confirmed horrific fatal accident, has caused people to wonder: if this happened to me, what would I do? Equipped with several different makes of cars and a test track, our colleagues at Consumer Reports Cars decided to play Mythbusters and put different stuck-accelerator survival strategies to the test.

Their verdict: “smart-throttle” technology helps immensely. The Mercedes and Volkswagen test cars engineers tried both have his feature, which causes the car to ignore signals from the accelerator if the brake is pressed. Other test cars without this technology, including a Toyota, didn’t fare so well.

Since these lacked smart-throttles, we proceeded more cautiously. So we decided to start this test by flooring the cars to 20 mph (instead of 60) and then slamming on the brakes. While we stopped both cars, the transmissions downshifted hard, trying to fight us on the way down, and we needed to exert quite a bit of brake pedal effort to stop completely. We then drove a lap around our test course to cool the brakes and repeated the procedure. This time we accelerated to 60 mph before we slammed on the brakes. Again, the engines downshifted and fought us all the way down. But by the time we slowed down to about 10 mph, the brakes had faded so much that we weren’t able to come to a complete stop. If the driver had less strength or was traveling at higher speeds, they would not be able to slow down nearly as much.

Their advice, should you find yourself with a stuck gas pedal, is to shift the car into neutral. Turning the ignition off, as many people suggest, is also an option, but causes the vehicle to lose power steering and makes the car very difficult to maneuver. If you’re already going 120 mph, losing power steering will cause a whole other set of very, very dangerous problems.

Putting stuck floor mat survival strategies to the test [Consumer Reports Cars]

PREVIOUSLY:
Toyota Recalls 3.8 Mil Cars For Stuck Gas Pedal Danger
Non-Recalled Toyotas Could Still Have Dangerous Floor Mats
Toyota: 911 Call Of Family’s Fatal Lexus Crash Due To Gas Pedal Stuck On Floormats

(Photo: frankieleon)