New York Police Cite Driver Error in Toyota Prius Case

Police in New York on Monday said it appears a March 9 crash of a Toyota Motor Prius was a case of driver error and not unintended acceleration.

“The vehicle accelerator in this case was depressed 100 percent at the time of collision. There is absolutely no indication of any brake application,” said Capt. Anthony Marraccini, acting chief of the Harrison Police Department, during a Monday afternoon press conference in Harrison, New York.

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Marraccini was asked if the incident was caused by driver error.

“I believe that this is what this case is telling us,” Marraccini said of the data police investigators gathered.

This determination agrees with a preliminary finding reached last week by federal investigators from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Toyota [TM  80.96  0.77  (+0.96%) ], the world’s No. 1 automaker, has been under fire for the last two months amid the recall of more than 8 million vehicles around the world due to concerns about unintended acceleration.

Last Tuesday, Toyota announced that its investigators could not find evidence to support a driver’s claim of unintended acceleration of a speeding Prius near San Diego on March 8.

However, the California Highway Patrol last Wednesday stood by its initial report that it appeared that a 61-year-old man whose 2008 Prius sped down a San Diego County freeway on March 8 was stomping heavily on the brake pedal.

No charges have been filed in the case in California, and none are expected in the New York case, police said.

On March 9, a 56-year-old woman driving a 2005 Prius hybrid forward out of a driveway in Harrison was injured when the Prius speeded out of the driveway, across a busy street, and into a stone wall.

The car reached a top speed of 35 miles per hour during a short drive that ended when the Prius struck a stone wall across a busy street from the driveway at 27 mph, Marraccini said.

Marraccini said he believes that Toyota Prius cars are safe.

“Quite honestly, I would have no reservations about putting my own family” in a Toyota Prius, Marraccini said.

Toyota cooperated fully in the investigation, Marraccini said.

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