Feds Question 'Runaway Prius' Driver's Story

Investigators can't replicate incident; brake-wear patterns inconsistent
By Marie Morris,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 14, 2010 4:59 PM CDT
Feds Question 'Runaway Prius' Driver's Story
A row of Toyota Prius cars sits on the lot at Toyota of El Cajon Tuesday, March 9, 2010 in El Cajon, Calif. Driver James Sikes' 2008 Toyota Prius raced out of control on a San Diego freeway Monday. A California Highway Patrol officer helped him stop the car.   (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

Investigators have not been able to replicate the incident of uncontrolled acceleration a Prius driver says he experienced last week, and the condition of the car's brakes is raising suspicions with federal investigators and Toyota engineers, the Wall Street Journal reports. James Sikes said he lost control of his car near San Diego and slammed on the brakes as it topped 90mph, but the wear pattern on the brakes refutes that.

A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration memo prepared for the House oversight committee and leaked to the AP and the Jalopnik blog indicates that the Prius would shut down if strong counteracting forces—such as acceleration and braking—canceled each other out. Said Sikes' wife: "There's no intent at all to sue Toyota. If any good can come out of this, maybe they can find out what happened so other people don't get killed."
(More James Sikes stories.)

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