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QOTD: “Sudden Acceleration” February 28, 2010

Posted by federalist in Transportation.
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Car accelerating out of control? Even if you don’t have the presence of mind to shift out of gear or turn off the ignition, Car & Driver published an amusing test showing that just slamming on the brakes will bring your car to a halt even with the throttle running wide open. And unless you’re running a 500hp sports-car at triple-digit speeds you will come to a stop almost as quickly as if the engine were off.

So what’s the deal with these horrifying “uncontrolled acceleration” reports? Tort lawyers will never admit it, and car companies can’t act dismissive when people have been injured or killed, but the simple fact is that these are uncoordinated drivers who couldn’t find the brake pedal. Holman Jenkins notes:

Years ago, the George Washington University neurologist [Richard Restak] coined the term “neurobehaviorally impaired” for such drivers: “He or she acts too fast or not fast enough; steps on the accelerator when the intention is to put on the brake; slips the gear into reverse instead of forward; comes to a full stop when the sign merely indicates ‘yield.’ In all cases, the response is almost but not quite appropriate to the situation . . . [and] leaves a wake of dented fenders, sore necks and inflamed tempers.”

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