A tide of Toyota owners report incidents of sudden, unintended acceleration, according to a story by ABC News. Toyota attributes these incidents to improperly installed or wrong-sized floor mats jamming the accelerator down, but the ABC story cites owners' fears of electronic throttle controls. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has investigated and discounted problems with electronic throttle control.
The ABC story includes harrowing accounts from owners. One driver claims her Prius "suddenly shot up to 90 miles an hour." Given the Prius' acceleration, she would have had plenty of time to react. The proper thing to do under these circumstances is put the car in neutral.
When Consumer Reports tested how different cars coped with sudden acceleration problems, it found that some European automakers install a nifty little mechanism that idles the throttle when the brake is depressed, something Toyota should look into--if for no other reason than to allay future fears.