Toyotas don't go into neutral?

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.


Just like a pillow

For instance, the [Mercedes] GLK has a fairly high hood that creates a crumple zone designed to cushion a pedestrian’s head and upper body if struck by the vehicle.

by Herb Shuldiner / Motor Matters printed in the Houston Chronicle, Feb. 11.

I’m sure you’d fall right to sleep if you got hit by a GLK while crossing the street. I would just jam a bunch of memory foam up on the front bumper – that would create a super comfy custom fit for those you run over.


Corporate stadium naming is ridiculous

“I have not seen that putting a name on a field elevates your brand,” Sexton said. “The basic idea of a brand is not that they know your name, but what your name stands for.”

Naming a stadium: Good marketing or a waste? (from MSNBC)

The timing and circumstances of the New York Mets new stadium naming, Citigroup (citi), the state of the economy, and the government bailout of banks including citi puts the spotlight on the corporate stadium naming issue.

From the stadium owners’ perspective, I totally understand offering the stadium naming rights to the highest bidder. It makes business sense. If some company is dumb enough to give you millions to name the building that you still own, take the money without hesitation and run.

From the naming corporation’s perspective, I can understand how they justify the purchase as a marketing endeavor. Your company name is broadcast on TV and radio, printed on the tickets and in newspapers and magazines, and posted on web sites for at least every game and probably also on days when no games are scheduled. That’s a lot of exposure.

But from my perspective as a sports fan and consumer, corporate naming of stadiums is annoying and has no effect on my purchasing habits whatsoever. For example, the home of the Houston Astros is Minute Maid Park. It’s meaningless and 99% likely that the name will not last the duration of the stadium’s existence. The name doesn’t resonate and make you think “Houston” or “Astros” when you hear or see it. Hell, on occasion, I call the place The Stadium Formerly Known as Enron Field. Again, a meaningless and non-enduring name.

I don’t drink any more Minute Maid juice than I did before the stadium was renamed. Why? They should spend less on stadium naming and more on improving the quality of the product. I happen to like the Simply line of juices which I later learned is Minute Maid / Coca-Cola owned brand, but still the stadium name had nothing to do with my purchasing decision. I don’t remember exactly, but it was probably more traditional product marketing that attracted me to try first Simply Orange juice and, later, Simply Apple juice (which rocks, by the way). By traditional, I mean, the shape of the container, the label, the price point, and the placement in the grocery store.

I would be ok with corporate naming of stadiums if, indeed, that company owned the building. Then, and only then, does it make sense.

I won’t even get started on college football bowl games.