Welcome to Tesla Motors Club
Discuss Tesla's Model S, Model 3, Model X, Model Y, Cybertruck, Roadster and More.
Register

Toyota Floormat Recall: fiery 120mph Lexus crash from stuck pedal

stopcrazypp

Well-Known Member
Dec 8, 2007
10,025
4,952
Feds Recall Lexus, Toyota Floor Mats Due To Potential For Fiery Death - Floor Mats - Jalopnik
Floor mat suspected in fatal car crash - SignOnSanDiego.com

Apparently a CHP officer loaned a 2008 Lexus ES350 and the accelerator pedal got stuck due to improperly installed floor mats. There were 4 people in the car and it ended up in a fatal 120mph crash into a Ford Explorer at an intersection. They had a couple of minutes from discovering the problem before crashing; they had time to call 911.

Here is the 911 call:
LiveLeak.com - 911 Tape of Fatal Crash as it Happen's

Attempts to apply the brake was unsuccessful; they caught on fire from excessive use. Apparently because of the inertia of a moving car, even the brakes cannot stop the vehicle (many people comment that no matter how powerful an engine, it can't overpower the brakes, but I think they are probably just thinking about from a stop when the engine hadn't gotten into it's powerband).

What he tried next was to turn off the ignition, but the car had keyless ignition and a push button stop that requires the button to be pressed for 3 seconds to turn off the engine. Obviously with the car being a loaner, the officer didn't know this. Many owners of the car claim they didn't know this either until they were told.

The other option was to put the car into neutral, but it is unclear if this was every attempted. I'm not sure if the car was automatic or manual, but for the automatic cars the neutral corresponds to an upshift in manual mode, so that may cause a problem.

lexus_es_350_sedan_2008_interior_gearshift.jpg


There is now a recall for floormats in Toyota and Lexus vehicles. My heart goes out to the family, but I guess this is also a good reminder of what to do in this kind of situation.

This got me kind of thinking about if the accelerator pedal got stuck in a Tesla Roadster what would a driver do? I don't remember clearly what the neutral actually does in the Roadster, but it isn't mechanical if I remember correctly (no clutch). Does it just turn off the motor? Also can you turn off the motor while moving just by turning the key like a normal car? Does it turn off the brake vacuum pump? (There is no power steering the Roadster so I guess I don't have to ask that).
 

DaveD

EVs Kick Gas!
Aug 18, 2007
642
242
Redmond, WA
This got me kind of thinking about if the accelerator pedal got stuck in a Tesla Roadster what would a driver do? I don't remember clearly what the neutral actually does in the Roadster, but it isn't mechanical if I remember correctly (no clutch). Does it just turn off the motor?

Yes, putting the lever in neutral shuts off power to the motor. It also disables regen braking. I've done it deliberately while pressing on the go pedal to see what would happen.
 

J in MN

S60 P12635
Jul 23, 2008
460
1
Minnesota
I'm not sure if the car was automatic or manual, but for the automatic cars the neutral corresponds to an upshift in manual mode, so that may cause a problem.

What does this mean? What "upshift"?

The real safety concern here is that there are idiots on the same road as me who don't know how to put a car in neutral. Why is this not something that needs to be demonstrated as part of the driver's license test?
 

doug

Administrator / Head Moderator
Nov 28, 2006
16,908
1,025
SF Bay Area
A tragedy. But really, in every automatic I've ever driven, even those with tip-tronic, neutral is directly accessible from drive. You don't even have to press in the shift lock button.
 

stopcrazypp

Well-Known Member
Dec 8, 2007
10,025
4,952
What does this mean? What "upshift"?

The real safety concern here is that there are idiots on the same road as me who don't know how to put a car in neutral. Why is this not something that needs to be demonstrated as part of the driver's license test?

I got it from here.
Lexus ES 350 - CarSpace Automotive Forums

I'm just trying to figure out if they didn't attempt or if there was something that prevented the car from being put into neutral. Look at the picture. A person unfamiliar with the car may possibly be selecting the upshift (the + symbol, corresponding to shifting up a gear if you are driving a manual) and mistakenly think they are selecting neutral. The car will still automatically do shift changes in manual mode, so the driver may not know they have put it into the wrong slot. Who knows how people respond to a panic situation or if there was a malfunction.

Also this wasn't just a random "idiot" like many people say when they first hear this story (or any story about accidents). This was a veteran CHP officer and I would assume he would know what to do in a situation like this. The unfamiliarity with the car (a loaner) would probably mean he was not used to the controls. And he did try the two most common sense things that many suggest in a situation like this, one is the brakes and the other is to turn off the engine (no solid evidence yet if he tried this but obviously he wouldn't know how to even if he tried). Lets wait for the full results of the investigation before we jump to the conclusion of incompetence on the drivers part (also from many discussions of this, it is one thing to sit here and discuss what to do when something like this happens and another thing when it actually happens).
 
Last edited:

doug

Administrator / Head Moderator
Nov 28, 2006
16,908
1,025
SF Bay Area
I this case, the experience of the driver may have resulted in over confidence. One of the "rules" is to spend a moment to familiarize yourself with the controls of an unfamiliar car (including the radio if you plan to use it) before you put the vehicle into motion.

At any rate, even if the shifter was confusing, I'd rather risk putting the car in reverse than plow full speed through a T intersection.
 

johnr

Member
Apr 14, 2009
359
321
Central California
keyless ignition and a push button stop that requires the button to be pressed for 3 seconds to turn off the engine
For obvious safety reasons, no vehicle should rely on a software button to shut off the engine - there should always be a real physical cutoff switch.
 

vfx

Well-Known Member
Aug 18, 2006
14,790
40
CA CA
HP officers get a lot of driver training. Shifting into park seems very logical. And what about a passenger reaching down and pulling out the mat?

Has anyone asked about hitting other objects like parked cars and walls to scrub off speed?

It's all so easy sitting at a keyboard...:frown:
 

Tdave

Member
May 16, 2008
760
80
Owings Mills, MD
I tested the 'N' button on my 2010. Works as expected. Hit it and the kW meter goes to zero, power drops off (and so does regen), and the accelerator becomes a null pedal with no effect.

Odd sensation, actually. The car just coasts, and coasts, and coasts. I've gotten very used to the throttle lift regen.
 

Takumi

Member
Aug 25, 2006
684
329
IL
HP officers get a lot of driver training. Shifting into park seems very logical.
Park on a few cars will not engage unless the vehicle is traveling less than 5mph. Try it and you'll just hear fast clicking. Don't ask me how I know.
Old topic yes, but how did the pedal get stuck? Did he floor it?

My thoughts exactly. I do not know of any car that has the accelerator pedal go all the way down to the floor unless you "floor it." The brakes getting stuck on the other hand, has happened to me.
 

BBHighway

Member
Feb 2, 2008
224
0
Most peoples first instinct would be to hit the brakes.

Maybe new cars should have a switch that disables the accelerator if the brake is pushed. Of course, sports cars would need a disable switch for autocross fun :biggrin:
 

edo

Member
Jul 23, 2008
151
2
Maybe new cars should have a switch that disables the accelerator if the brake is pushed. Of course, sports cars would need a disable switch for autocross fun :biggrin:

I've heard tell that volkswagons have such a feature... If the brake is applied for more than X seconds while the throttle is high, it automatically reverts to idle speed. If the brake is applied first then the rev rises, the feature is disabled, enabling Drag racing fun :smile:
 

About Us

Formed in 2006, Tesla Motors Club (TMC) was the first independent online Tesla community. Today it remains the largest and most dynamic community of Tesla enthusiasts. Learn more.

Do you value your experience at TMC? Consider becoming a Supporting Member of Tesla Motors Club. As a thank you for your contribution, you'll get nearly no ads in the Community and Groups sections. Additional perks are available depending on the level of contribution. Please visit the Account Upgrades page for more details.


SUPPORT TMC
Top