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  • Waiting for a ride

Wednesday, March 10 Runaway Toyotas


Vallejo California 7:15 a.m.
The cold weather remains (42 degrees), but it’s sunny and clear and a glorious morning. I get in the front seat of an older Toyota sedan. Both driver and rear seat passenger, Asian-American fellows, are jabbing away at their cell phones, the driver sporting an i-phone.

Off we go and the portable GPS sitting on the dash guides our way down the 80 freeway and tells us we’re going 39 mph as we cross the Carquinez Bridge. ‘Light Rock Less Talk’ radio tuned in very loudly and the driver’s body language suggests no talk in the car. Okay.

I’ve been checking out the message boards on the never-ending Toyota crises – the latest being the guy in San Diego with the runaway Toyota Prius that was tearing along at 94 mph. I always thought if you just turned off the ignition, the car would eventually coast to a stop, but it sounds like (from some of these message boards) that doing that on a Prius might make you also lose power to the brakes. In the case of a Prius, you ‘push’ the ignition off with a small button.

However – some folks suggested that the San Diego driver should have shifted into Neutral, which would have disengaged the wheels, and the car, although with racing motor, would not have continued to be propelled forward.

The solution that the Highway Patrol gave him – to use both hand and foot brake – ultimately worked. Hopefully none of us will face this terrifying situation, but if you ever do, remember to use both brakes and shift to neutral, if you are able to function at all going 100 mph!

I was surprised to discover that nearly a million Prius have been sold since they appeared in 2000. I’d thought there would be more.

I’ve been checking out the cars in the other lanes today and it looks like about 1 out of every 3 cars, at least today, on this freeway, is a Toyota. Just fyi.

We’re at the 80 overpass nearing the Bay Bridge approach and the sun is OUT! A mile or so ahead on the freeway and bridge I can see the long line of cars moving along toward the City, sparkling and reflecting in this great sunny morning. My beautiful white egret is standing below by the marshy pools, head cocked, watching for his breakfast.

We move past the toll plaza mess and are in the City by 8 o’clock.

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