OT: Is a stuck car accelerator capable of doing this?

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Occasionally over the years there have been reports by a few people claiming that their accelerator got stuck and they were unable to stop the car by any means. I'm not talking about the case where something happens for a short period and the car lurches through a store window or something like that. I'm talking about where it went on for a considerable amount of time and the person was actually driving the car around. I have always believed this to be impossible because:
A - You can shut off the ignition
B - You could put the car in neutral
C - The brakes fully applied with maximum foot pressure are likely powerful enough to either stop the car through a massive failure of some major component, eg the transmission, or stall the engine.
Well, on the news a couple days ago there was a fatal car crash that killed 4 people that is being attributed to a stuck accelerator. The totally weird thing about this one is that a person in the car made a 911 call stating that this is what was happening and that they were driving around out of control. On the 911 call you can here the person saying "We're coming up on an intersection. Everbody hold on and pray,..." Or something to that effect. The Lexus was reported to have been traveling at over 120MPH. To add further credibility, one of the occupants was a California Highway Patrol Officer. The rest of those dead were his wife, daughter and brother-in-law. They didn't make it clear exactly who was driving.
Here's a link to the story: http://www.cbs8.com/Global/story.asp?S 111063
I'm still mystified how this could possibly happen. Any thoughts?
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snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

This was discussed over on rec.autos.tech - it appears that this particular model does not have an ignition switch but rather a keyless system where to shut it down you push the "start" button for a couple seconds. so the operator may not have known this. (someone suggested that that might engage the steering wheel lock as well) Personally I think that is a really bad design...
now they should have been able to stop the car by using the brakes then putting the car in neutral which would probably destroy both the brakes and engine but that's better than dying. however we all know in an emergency you don't always think of things like that and your "reflex" is to protect the machinery...
nate
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replace "roosters" with "cox" to reply.
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Nate Nagel wrote:

Sounds like microsoft was involved. Windows users know you need to use the extremely intuitive method of clicking the "start" button to shut the computer down. It is not hard to imagine someone who had driven normal vehicles that have a key switch not remembering to push the "start" button to stop the engine especially in an emergency.

Apparently they tried:
"Sheriff's investigator Scott Hill says witnesses reported the tires of a speeding Lexus were on fire before it crashed Aug. 28 in Santee. The preliminary investigation says the flames suggest constant, heavy braking..."
And since the lexus has the genius "start" button maybe there is something that doesn't allow you to shift into neutral?

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one of the victims was a deputy as well, right? The "flaming tires" (yeah that's believeable) may have been one LEO covering for another. It does happen. However if lexus prevents the tranny from going into neutral and there is no emergency brake they may have some share of the blame. I'm thinking human error here- I doubt I'd have the sense to use the cell phone. I'd be yelling turn it off or shift into neutral etc

-
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I smell lawyers .....................
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And on this computer, powered by Microsoft Vista, to turn it off I have to use the 'extremely intuitive method' of ... wait for it.... pushing the on/off button!
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I smell lawyers on this one. But then, you put people in a rental car with no instructions on how to turn if off in an emergency, and that common practices do not work on this car, and you are INVITING lawyers. I bet they get a bundle, and future models are different. But it could take ten years. Ford had trannies that would creep into gear. Killed many people. They identified the problem, fixed them, and then quit making that mechanism. It just took a few years, and then it took a very long time for the ones on the road to die out. Probably are still some out there. I left mine one day parked at a Wendy's. Came out to find it gone, across two lanes of traffic and in a ditch. I got lucky on that one.
Steve
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ANd holding it for 10 seconds or so.
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snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

nope, i just tap mine and it shuts down properly.
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On Mon, 21 Sep 2009 12:35:44 -0500, Steve Barker

The vast majority are set up to require holding the switch in to shut down to avoid accidental shutdown. Vista Home systems may be different, but virtually every business computer I've worked on in since the advent of the ATX power supply has had the "hold to shut down" power switch, which is only used if the software shutdown sequence (either start button or Ctrl>Alt>Del) fails to shut it down.
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snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

You can often change it in the BIOS settings depending on the manufacturer. I can have a lot of fun changing the BIOS settings on the machine of an unsuspecting victim. Having your computer shut down by itself at the same time every day might rattle a few computer illiterate people.
TDD
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The Daring Dufas wrote:

That's mean. I like it!
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Tony wrote:

I had a guy ask me to check out a problem with his computer. He had a screwed up Outlook program and his deleted Email file was 2gb in size. Whenever he tried to access his Outlook program, the computer would hang. After I recovered his data and got his Email working again, he told me he didn't have time for me to straighten out everything so I told him not to try to access THIS file, don't click on THIS, it will hang up your machine. Of course you can guess what he did after I left.
TDD
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OK, I got the definitive answer from several clients who drive late model Lexus cars.
Yes - you can put the car in neutral while in motion. No, the engine will not over-rev - it is limited to 3500 RPM when not in gear (electronic fuel shut-off) To stop the engine you put your foot on the brake and punch the start button - shuts down within seconds. In gear or out? not sure if it will shut down in gear, but it CAN be put in neutral, then shut down.
There you have it.
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wrote:

How very intuitive. To stop it, you push the start button. Must've been designed by Microsoft.

Incredibly STUPID design. Who the hell is going to remember that in an emergency, if he even knew it to begin with?
Thanks for telling me one brand of cars to avoid.
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snipped-for-privacy@milmac.com (Doug Miller) wrote:

Having lived with such a design for the last four years with my Infiniti, I find it very easy and intuitive. The actual label on the button is "Start/Stop". It works just like lots of electronics. If it's not running, pushing the button starts it. If it is running, pushing the button stops it.
I guess you could have separate start and stop buttons, but it doesn't seem necessary.
-- Doug
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Douglas Johnson wrote:

Like in industrial plants all over the world. A green button for "start" and a red or BIG red button for "stop".
TDD
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Doug Miller wrote:

This has been floating around The Web for years:
If Microsoft Built Cars
Every time they repainted the lines on the road, you'd have to buy a new car. Occasionally your car would just die on the highway for no reason. Accept this, restart and drive on.
Occasionally, executing a maneuver would cause the car to stop and fail to restart. You'd have to re-install the engine. For some strange reason, you'd just accept this too.
You could only have one person in the car at a time, unless you bought "Car 95" or "Car NT". But then you'd have to buy more seats.
Macintosh would make a car that was powered by the sun, was twice as reliable, five times as fast, twice as easy to drive - but it would only run on five percent of the roads.
The oil, engine, gas and alternator warning lights would be replaced with a single "General Car Fault" light.
People would get excited about "new" features in Microsoft cars, forgetting completely that they had been available in other cars for years.
We'd all have to switch to Microsoft gas and auto fluids.
New seats would force everyone to have the same size butt.
The airbag system would say, "Are you sure?" before going off.
If you were involved in a crash, you would have no idea what happened.
Microsoft wouldn't build their own engines, but form a cartel with their engine suppliers. The engine would be a side-valve design so you could still use Model T Ford parts on it.
Microsoft cars would have a special radio/cassette player which would only be able to listen to Microsoft FM and play Microsoft cassettes.
Microsoft would do well, because even though they don't own any roads, all road manufacturers would give away Microsoft cars for free!
If you couldn't afford to buy a new car, you could borrow your friend's and copy it.
Whenever you bought a car, you would have to reorganize the ignition a few days until it worked.
You would need an upgrade to run cars on a highway next to each other.
TDD
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On Sep 22, 10:32am, snipped-for-privacy@milmac.com (Doug Miller) wrote:

Do you _really_ think that someone who owns and drives a car doesnt' know how to shut it off in an emergency? Of course a rental is a different proposition.
Harry K
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Doug Miller wrote:

People who drive Lexus aren't interested in reality.
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