NBC12 automotive expert gives tips on how to stop accelerating cars

By Laura Geller - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – A Connecticut woman claimed she's the latest victim of a defective Toyota accelerator. She ran her 2007 Camry into a church after her gas pedal got stuck and the car suddenly took off. No one was seriously hurt. With news of an out-of-control Prius in California, some Toyota owners are wondering how to get their cars to stop if it suddenly accelerates.

Toyota mechanics are working overtime to keep up with the recalls. The parts for many of these vehicles aren't available yet and some drivers are continuing to question their safety.

"The main thing to do is don't panic," said NBC12 automotive expert Emmerson Miles.

The first and easiest way to slow your car down is shift it from drive, into neutral.

"It won't continue to accelerate," said Miles. "It's going to sound like an airplane because the engine revs up. I think that's what scares people, but if everybody can say 'well, that's something that's going to happen, I can deal with it.'"

Miles said, when your car is speeding out of control, you shouldn't be worried about the damage the shift may cause.

"It's better to ruin the car than be involved in a very bad accident," he said.

Another mistake a panicked driver can make is switching on the emergency brake. Constantly applying pressure to the brake pedal is safer. Also, never turn off the engine.

"The reason you want to keep the engine running is so you still have your power steering and some control of the vehicle," said Miles.

With millions of Toyotas on the road, Miles told us it's important to keep what he calls an isolated issue in perspective.

While it's Toyota in the hot seat right now, Miles said these kinds of failures can happen in any vehicle. It's important to remember the tips for a safe stop. Again, don't panic, step on the brakes, and shift the car into neutral.

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