This is an email I received from a good friend and retired Chrysler Exec. Alas we have now come to this... I read the news story on the latest runaway Toyota...this time a Prius... The guy stepped on the loud pedal to pass another car, but then it wouldn't slow down when he released the pedal... He reached down and tried to pull the pedal back with his hand, but it wouldn't come back... He then did what every driver has been taught (not) call 911 on your cellphone! Of course as the car is ""rocketing down the highway", the cops tell him to put it in Neutral! (DUH) He replies, NO, I might flip over...(ok you got me here...why did he think that might happen?) 23 minutes after he calls 911, the cops finally get him to put on both the service brakes and parking brake (had to tell him what and where) to bring the car to a stop.. Then they tell him to turn the key off (the engine stops)...obviously there was a mistaken identity here, the guy was clearly a passenger, not the driver/operator of the vehicle This is second only to the police officer in California whose Lexus SUV crashed after a long ride with him on the cellphone asking for help since he too couldn't stop the car....(neutral anyone?, key-off anyone?, hand/parking/emergency brake?) apparently all in that car died in the crash While all this is tragic to be sure, and things do go wrong with mechanical and electrical devices, what ever happened to common sense, and the requirement that you take responsibility for your decisions, especially when operating a vehicle? I recall in driver's ed (way back in the early 1960's), it was drilled into us that the automobile is a large, powerful machine which we were being trained to respect and learn to control... We were told that driving is a full-time job and MAJOR Responsibility came with the privilege of a driver's license. First thing we learned was to remove all distractions before we started the car...then set the seat, check the mirrors, be sure we were familiar with all the controls (including the shifter and ignition key) as not all cars were the same even then...all this before we were allowed to start the engine. That class included knowing how to maintain the car to keep it safe, check tire pressures, evaluate brakes and steering controls. We had to parallel park, and learn how to change a tire. We had to drive in rain and on snow and ice and were evaluated on how we reacted when things did not go as planned....we regularly ventured out onto real streets with real traffic as part of our classes. (we also learned hand signals...not the single digit one) While we didn't have to learn to deal with a stuck accelerator pedal, we were told that things can go wrong and we accepted responsibilty for control of the vehicle once we got behind the wheel. We were told that Neutral is acceptable in an emergency, as is turning the key off (and thus the engine), use of the emergency brake (as it was called then) was also taught. In todays' world, apparently a driver's license is a right (along with a cellphone and the right to use it anywhere) and responsibility is something for others....now most driving training is on simulators, and many state tests give credit for simulator time as opposed to real "seat time" in a vehicle. The push is on to pump lots of new drivers into the system rather than screen out those that need to work on their attitudes and skills. (here comes "back in the day") Back when I was taught, licenses were hard to come by...the written and driving tests were tough. In Baltimore (where I was tested) they had a 50+% first-time fail rate on testing for new drivers. You could return in 30 days for a re-test after remedial training. Some took 3 or more times to get it right...you could fail to get a license if you didn't measure up, it wasn't a right or guaranteed. First you had to pass the written test (like a high school exam, not a 10-15 question True/False)..if that was a passing grade you go to the driving test. The State Police Officer who accompanied you on your test drive looked as much at your degree of engagement in the task of driving as he did on your performance on a series of vehicle operation challenges (on a course mimicking city streets complete with other "student being tested" traffic).... IF you didn't wash out on the driving course, (most of the first-time failures happened in this phase) you took a trip on the expressway and in real city traffic to gage your ability to react to a variety of real-world situations. Drivers today don't seem to know much beyond that there are two pedals (Go and Stop). God forbid there is a third pedal to learn about (clutch which also removes the engine from the "go "equation) maybe cars have become too much like living rooms with easy chairs for the driver?. Most never use or know about the Parking/Emergency Brake/Hand Brake...They may or may not be taught about the particular controls in the car they are driving... "Stab it and steer it" seems to be the way most learn to drive now..brakes are only for emergencies, beyond that, call 911, if you aren't too busy on your phone texting or telling your friends "OMG you won't believe what is happening!" As you can tell, I am more than a bit frosted. Folks insist on all the rights but none of the responsibilities. Many don't belong on the road, cannot begin to control their cars even in non-emergencies, and if something happens...whose fault is it? Not theirs! No matter where I have driven, in many states, I cannot help but observe people in cars behind the wheel but just "along for the ride", totally clueless...accidents waiting for their time. (Yes I was taught defensive driving) As for Toyota's problems, we have been down this road before several times. In the early 1960's GM cars had engine mounts where the rubber fatiqued and when they separated, the engine "rolled" to the right under any acceleration....the carb linkage was bolted to the firewall and when the engine rolled, the throttle went wide open...this often caused the trans linkage to bind since it was also connected to the throttle...talk about a wild ride! Almost impossible to shift to Neutral since the linkage was bound up...the only way to stop it was the ignition key. My dad's 1960 Pontiac did this, and we had to drive it to the dealer with the key on/off to get the temporary fix - a cable through the mount and around the frame, until they could make mounts with a mechanical interlock in case of rubber failure. Back then drivers were an integral part of the vehiclde...this truly was a mechanical durability issue where the company had a problem but there was no national cry for a lynching, just a resolve to get things fixed and get on with it. In later years, Audi had problems with "unintended acceleration" they foolishly suggested that the drivers were not pressing the brake, but the gas...ergonomics of various cars differed and while this was the problem, the car company took it on the chin for suggesting folks had a responsibility when driving a car. Now all cars have a shift/brake interlock so the lowest common denominator can pilot a couple thousand pounds of steel without ever engaging their mind.... Who knows if Toyota's issue is mechanical (binding in the gas pedal mechanism), or more than that? The witch hunt will continue to find who to blame. One thing is for sure, nobody is looking to see if the "drivers" could have done anything to prevent the collateral damage once a problem occurred. I just finished a boating class...the rule (the law) on the water is "the operator of the craft is responsible for the craft and all its occupants, no matter what happens!". Too bad we have lost our way on the roads.