1Myth: Toyota vehicles, like the Prius, put drivers at a high risk.
Fact: Carnegie Mellon University Professor Paul Fischbeck, a risk expert, calculated the risk of driving a recalled Toyota and found that the accelerator problem increases the driving risk by 2 percent—which is already very low. In other words, the chance of dying in a year because of the accelerator problem is about two in a million. This is the same as flipping 19 coins one time each and getting 19 heads. Fischbeck says that you are almost 20 times more likely to die while walking than driving a recalled Toyota.
National Public Radio reported that you are 30 times more likely to get hit by lightning than you are to die in a crash involving a Toyota with a sticky gas pedal.
So, the chances of driving a runaway Prius are extremely unlikely. But still, it’s a problem, potentially a fatal one, and drivers need to know what to do if it happens. The remaining myths and facts come from Paddocktalk.com, a website dedicated to racing news.
2Myth: In the event you encounter a runaway vehicle, the first thing you should do is to turn off the ignition.
Fact: No, the first thing a driver should do is to put the transmission in Neutral. A driver can place the Prius in Neutral by moving the shift lever to the “N” position—to the left side of the shift gate, and hold it there for a second. This stops the torque to the wheels, and gives the driver instant speed control over the vehicle, and allows the driver time to assess what is happening. Shifting into Neutral at full throttle will not damage the engine.
Myth: The start/stop button on the dash will not turn off a Prius while it’s running.
Fact: Pressing the start/stop button does shut down the car, but it’s a backup choice—behind shifting into Neutral—because it will also shut down power brakes and steering. On models with a push-button smart key system, pushing and holding the button on the dash for about three seconds will shut off the ignition system on the vehicle, bringing the car to a stop—even if it’s in gear and moving along the roadway.
4Myth: The brake system on my Toyota Prius is not able to stop the car at speed with a wide-open throttle condition.
Fact: If you apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal—use two feet if needed—the vehicle will come to a halt. Do not pump the brakes. All Priuses have a brake system program that reduces gasoline engine power if both the throttle and brake pedals are depressed at the same time. Prius has multiple back-up systems to force the use of hydraulic brakes, in the extremely unlikely event that the electronic brakes fail.
5Myth: The parking brake is effective in stopping a vehicle at speed.
Fact: The parking brake may be helpful, but placing the transmission in Neutral and using firm steady pressure on the brake pedal will be the best way to bring the vehicle to a stop.