I don’t own a Toyota and I’m far from an expert automotive technician, but something has been bothering me every time I read or see a television interview about someone who has experienced the sudden, uncontrolled acceleration while driving a Toyota vehicle. That problem is moot if the stricken vehicle is equipped with a manual transmission. Simply depress the clutch, shift the car out of gear, and use the brakes normally to safely bring the car to a stop.
What has been bothering me is what many of these stricken drivers do not seem to be doing if their vehicle has an automatic transmission. Instinctively, the driver’s first reaction to a car accelerating rapidly is to step on the brakes. Totally understandable. But shouldn’t the next step be to shift the car into neutral?
I don’t understand how a driver can go 10, 20, 30 miles accelerating out of control without having tried to shift the car into neutral (or turning the ignition “off” and keeping the key in to avoid steering wheel lock). Heck, I’ve occasionally bumped a shifter out of Drive and into Neutral by accident. I’m pretty sure it could be done intentionally, regardless of whether the car was accelerating hard or not.
Am I missing something? I’ve been driving standard transmission cars primarily just about the entire time I’ve been driving so maybe there’s something I don’t know about the workings of the shifter in automatic transmission cars. Regardless of whether you drive a Toyota or not, all drivers should have a plan for handling your vehicle if you lose control of the accelerator or the brakes.