"But virtually nobody has any driver training for emergencies."
While there are some limitations as Ann suggests, we still fall far short in this area. My fifteen year old son is in a driver's education class and I have not heard them speak on the topic if driving emergencies in any detail. We were driving our Chevy Lumina on the highway when the dashboard lights started to dim. It was our first sign that our alternator was going out. Taking the first exit we could and pulling into a gas station on the service road saved us from being stuck on the highway at night - we barely made it into the parking lot when the car died. It was a good lesson for our son - encouraging observation of the car's gages and lights can go a long way - and how to respond if something seems wrong.
What to do if the accelerator seems stuck?
What to do if the brakes aren't responding?
What to do if the steering quits?
What to do if the car is skidding?
We can at least address these basic issues in training people to drive so that they have some idea of what to do when things like this happens...
J. Williams' point has come up before, and rightfully so--that pilots are well trained to deal with mechanical emergencies while flying, but drivers aren't trained to deal with mechanical emergencies while driving. OTOH, to do so, drivers would have to be not only mechanically minded, but also up on the latest stuff under the hood, and elsewhere in the car, since it keeps changing.
Once the lawyers smell the blood in the water it is open-season on deep pockets.
The ironic thing is that as much as I don't like fly-by-wire throttles, they are likely to be safer in the long run for any number of reasons, such as stability control, traction control, etc. I do recall many years ago, driving a cable actuated carburetor equipped car, I mashed the throttle to accelerate and lo and behold (unbeknownst to me at the time), a strand in the cable at the carburetor snapped right at the cable sheath ferrule and held the throttle virtually wide-open. Lifting the throttle pedal with my toe had no effect so my immediate reaction was to turn the ignition switch off. As long as you didn't pull the key out, the steering doesn't lock.
This is what people should be trained to do. But virtually nobody has any driver training for emergencies. Pilots do it all the time. I think we have a lot to learn from our airborne brethren.
After coasting to the side of the road, a quick look under the hood revealed the reason, and that errant strand of cable was quickly dispatched with a pair of wire cutters and I was able to continue on home. A few days later a shiny new throttle cable was installed.
This is really bad news for Toyota but also for people with vehicles that also could potentially have this issue. Let's hope there are no more accidents before the cause and the vehicles that may be affected are discovered.
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