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Interesting case

A man got 8 years for vehicular manslaughter. He was driving a Toyota and testified that the car accelerated on its own and the brakes weren’t working, consistent with recent recall issues. The victims’ families have joined the effort to help this guy.

13 Responses to “Interesting case”

  1. Tam Says:

    How does a floormat fouling the accelerator pedal prevent the brakes from working?

    Every kid who’s ever drag-raced mom’s Taurus away from a stoplight knows that the brakes are stronger than the motor.

  2. Ted Says:

    It’s the start of the EVIL BLACK CAR!!! Booga booga booga!

  3. straightarrow Says:

    The problem Tam is these are fly by wire cars. The accelerator has no physical linkage to the motor. The brakes likewise are controlled by inputs into onboard computers.. Have a computer glitch, not much you can do to except turn off the ignition, but you better be on enough straightaway that you can turn the key back on and unlock the steering.

  4. Douglas2 Says:

    A 1996 Toyota Camry has the accelerator connected conventionally and the brakes controlled hydraulically. I suspect the problem was…

    Lack of maintenance can keep the brakes from working. I had the brakes “fail” on a car of similar age because a seal in the wheel-cylinder decided it was time to go. Lack of timely replacement of brake pads and shoes can make a car seem adequate to someone who has become used to the steadily poorer brakes, yet completely inadequate in an emergency situation.

    But yeah, about this recall stuff, the policemen who died in CA was pretty obviously trying to continue to drive an obviously broken car by using the brakes to control the speed against the power of the racing engine. It worked until the brakes faded, and then it didn’t. The Consumer Reports researchers who “showed” that the engine could overcome the brakes documented that they had to boil the brakes pretty hard beforehand.

    This is why we were all taught not to rely on the brakes for steep downgrades.

  5. chris Says:

    And not one of these people have ever heard of neutral?

  6. Tam Says:


    The brakes likewise are controlled by inputs into onboard computers.

    Bet they’re not.

    All but the most sophisticated ABS systems (Toyota’s ECB, which debuted in ’01 on certain Lexus models, and M-B’s Sensotronic, only used on a very few models these days) simply insert a solenoid into a conventional hydraulic brake system.

    The ’96 Camry in question definitely had a mechanical throttle linkage and straight-up hydraulic brakes.

    People imagine all kinds of electric gimcrackery under their hoods that just isn’t happening.

  7. Xrlq Says:

    Never mind these recent stories. There’s a consensus that Toyotas are safe, and the science is settled. Oh wait, that’s global warming. Never mind.

  8. Tam Says:

    Objection, your honor! Hearsay!

  9. Tam Says:

    (If I’d fucked up behind the wheel, I’d like to think I have the integrity to admit it, rather than go play “pin-the-tail-on-the-scapegoat”, which the owner of this ’96 Camry, equipped with neither ECB nor ECT is obviously trying to do. I’m sure he’s found a lawyer who doesn’t know a master cylinder from a throttle position sensor to take his case, though.)

  10. countertop Says:

    Isn’t the bigger problem though, Tam, that basic skills aren’t taught at drivers ed anymore or indeed, parents aren’t teaching their kids to drive, speeding around quiet parts of town while you learn to drive is discouraged, racing around parking lots and doing donuts and such – which teaches you how to drive and handle a car – is heavily discouraged by the nanny state, etc etc etc etc

  11. Tam Says:

    It’s harder these days to pick up mad 1337 driving skillz the way I did, tear-assing down gravel roads in a Gran Torino and learning how to steer with the throttle, that’s for sure.

  12. straightarrow Says:

    I was thinking this was a newer model car, so I was wrong about the fly by wire thing on this particular car, but it still applies to the current recall problems. Also, some of the new model hybrids do have senors which control the braking based on inputs through the pedal. These same cars use braking energy to also power the car, not at all a simple system. More parts,more failures likely.

  13. Stretch Says:

    My first car was a 1968 Cutlass with a 350 V-8, drum brakes and ABS was only an engineer’s dream. You learn a lot ’bout physics driving such a nose heavy beast. And Dad taught me snow driving in a ’67 Mustang (which he still has) with a 3-speed manual. “No son of mine is going to embarrass me by driving like a Washingtonian.”
    IMO modern cars isolate the driver from the actual experience of driving … and are too safe for them to pay for their mistakes.
    Cynical? Who? Me?

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