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Public Safety

Experts Say Shift To Neutral If Your Car Runs Away

The gear shift in a Toyota Prius. Auto safety experts recommend shifting into neutral if a car begins accelerating out of control.
Simon King
The gear shift in a Toyota Prius. Auto safety experts recommend shifting into neutral if a car begins accelerating out of control.
Experts Say Shift To Neutral If Your Car Runs Away
We don't yet know why a Toyota Prius accelerated out of control in San Diego on Monday. But auto safety experts say they do know what drivers should do if it ever happens to them. Shift into neutral.

We don't yet know why a Toyota Prius accelerated out of control on Interstate 8 in San Diego on Monday, but auto safety experts say they do know what drivers should do if it ever happens to them. Shift into neutral.

Prius owner James Sikes was told by a 911 dispatcher and a highway patrol officer to shift into neutral gear as his Prius sped out of control. But Jake Fisher, an automotive engineer for Consumer Reports, said the Toyota hybrid has a pretty funny shifter.

Neutral can be hard to find for those who never use the gear. Nonetheless, Fisher said the tests he has done on cars show that all engines, be they hybrid or conventional, become disengaged from the drive line when they are put into neutral.

"No matter what the situation or what the car was," he said, "if you just put the car into neutral you can safely and easily stop the vehicle."

Fisher says people who own Toyotas, or any other car, should find a safe place and practice putting their cars into neutral as they drive.

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