Driver in Runaway Prius Afraid to Put Transmission in Neutral

This post was written by jd on March 11, 2010
Posted Under: Bits & Pieces

2005 Prius. This is the car model that I drive.

James Sikes claims his Prius runaway with him in El Cahon, California.  However, if you listen to the 911 call, the dispatcher repeatedly asked the man to put the car in neutral. He completely ignored the dispatcher’s attempt to help him. He later stated that he was afraid the car would go into reverse.

Yesterday, I drove my 2005 Prius on Brunswick Road at 50 miles per hour and very easily put my transmission into neutral without going into reverse.   I think if my car took off, I could care less if the car went into reverse.

I remember my high school days when I was just fooling around and going about 65 plus, I accidentally slammed my car into reverse. There were a lot of skid marks on the pavement, some weaving, but I got the car under control quickly.  Maybe, for James Sikes, it was just a panic situation and who knows what you do when you panic.

The picture above is what the transmission shift knob looks like on a Prius. Notice that you have only four positions. Reverse, Neutral,  Drive and Braking. The B is for engine braking. Living here in the mountains, I use that position constantly.  It has served me well, since I have 108,000 miles on my Prius and still have the original brakes. The driver could have also shifted to the B position which would also have the engine brake help him stop his car. Maybe he should have read the owner’s manual.

So I don’t know how you have enough presence of mind to dial 911 for help, yet ignore completely what they are telling you. You can hear the 911 call at 911 call of driver of Prius in trouble

Here’s a video of what happened.


John J. O’Dell
Real Estate Broker

Reader Comments

He shouldn’t be allowed to drive such a car because he is an idiot.

Written By Anonymous on March 15th, 2010 @ 11:12 AM