Unintended Acceleration Is Not Toyota's Real Problem
The country is horrified. The world waits in suspense. When will the next Toyota suddenly speed to 94 miles per hour and kill the driver and her family? Stuck accelerator pedals? Plush floor mats? A faulty throttle body? Actually none of these are responsible. So what is the problem? Perhaps the most striking example of lemming-like behavior ever observed in a 'higher' mammal.
To my knowledge, an automobile can only continue to accelerate (assuming a level grade) if torque from the engine is continually applied to the wheels. And to my knowledge, all production automobiles have a complex device known as a TRANSMISSION between the engine and the drive wheels. Typically this TRANSMISSION has a position called NEUTRAL in which the gears that transmit torque from the engine to the wheels become uncoupled. In every car in which I've ever ridden, there is a large lever called a SHIFT LEVER that allows the DRIVER to select NEUTRAL whenever she desires, thereby uncoupling the engine torque from the drive wheels so the car can roll to a STOP.
The latest example of the unintended acceleration phenomenon occured earlier this week in California. The DRIVER of a Prius actually called 911 which responded with a Highway Patrolman who drove alongside and suggested the DRIVER shift to NEUTRAL. Apparently the DRIVER refused because he believed the car would FLIP if he shifted to neutral. Flip? Flip? How in the hell does a car flip if you shift to neutral? That doesn't even happen in movies. Is it possible that a modern human can be this misinformed about the natural world? The place where they live everyday? I gues it is.
Toyota might have an engineering problem that needs to be fixed. And I can see how such a problem might result in a fender bender if a DRIVER is surprised and doesn't have time to hit NEUTRAL. But deaths after a thirty-minute episode on the interstate? Toyota's problem isn't their cars. It is their customers. Honestly they must be the stupidest people on the planet! But, maybe that's what you get when your entire worldview is the result of television, movies, and video games. Sadly, I can actually forsee a day coming when Americans will be too stupid to have the right to operate a motor vehicle.