The recent fuss over Toyota’s recalls has brought a lot of attention to a previously rather boring car feature: brake override. It wasn’t a very sexy feature until we began reading about throttles gone rogue, taking drivers on a terrifying ride. Brake override, and its absence on the affected Toyota models, became very interesting all of a sudden. But how does it work? Does it really work? Our sister publication Consumer Reports has a test track and some Toyotas lying around, so they set out to find out.
As more reports of runaway Toyota Prius vehicles begin to pile up, there is an ever-widening chasm between those who ask “Why didn’t the driver just put the car into neutral?” and those who reply “Because it doesn’t work on a Prius.” Well, one series of incredibly interesting — but also entirely unscientific — road tests will likely only add fuel to the debate’s fire.
“Brakes, brakes not working!” screamed Lee moments before crashing his 1996 Toyota Camry into the back of another car, killing a family of three. In 2006, the Minnesota jury didn’t believe this testimony and sentenced Lee to 8 years in prison. In 2010, they might be changing their mind.