How Toyota Drivers Can Stay Safe in an Emergency

Toyota has recalled 4.2 million vehicles involving eight models. But so far, dealers do not have the parts in hand to fix stuck pedals.

Over the weekend, word leaked that the federal government approved Toyota's plan to fix the problem. Toyota said Monday its dealers should get parts to fix the pedal problem by the end of this week.

Meantime, how can drivers stay safe?

Consumer Reports provided some advice on what to do if you are behind the wheel when a car suddenly accelerates, which is what happened with the Toyotas. It has posted a blog and a related video:

"1. Brake firmly. Do not pump the brakes. Do not turn off the engine yet, because doing so would disable the power assist for your steering and brakes.

"2. Shift the transmission into Neutral. Don't worry if the engine revs up alarmingly -- most modern cars have rev-limiters to protect it, and this move will put you in back in control of your vehicle.

"3. Steer to a safe location and come to a full stop.

"4. Shut off the engine with the transmission still in Neutral.

"5. Finally, shift the transmission into Park or, with a manual transmission, set the emergency brake. Then breathe deep and call for help. Do not attempt to drive the car.

"Memorize the above steps to prepare for the rare chance that you might experience unintended acceleration. Better yet, practice them in a safe location at low speeds until you feel comfortable with them. They could save your life."

Here is a related Toyota FAQ.

The Associated Press reported that Congress has scheduled a hearing about the issue:

"The U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is launching an investigation into the problems with Toyota's accelerator pedal systems. It has scheduled a Feb. 4 hearing entitled, 'Toyota Gas Pedals: Is the Public at Risk?' "
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    Al Tompkins

    Al Tompkins is The Poynter Institute’s senior faculty for broadcasting and online. He has taught thousands of journalists, journalism students and educators in newsrooms around the world.


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