Join Date: Dec 2012
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About 10 years ago I was driving my Rav4 on cruise control down a quiet county road. Coming to an intersection with a larger road, I pressed on the brakes and they went all the way to the floor. I kept pumping the brakes to no avail. I pulled on the emergency brake but it didn't prevent me from barreling across the highway, going down a bank, and coming to a stop in a weedy field. I was only lucky to miss the cross traffic.
After sitting for a while in stunned silence, I started up the car and tried the brakes. They seemed to work and I was able, with FWD, to drive back up the bank.
What had happened was I had hit the clutch instead of the brakes. That mistake had never happened before in my long, accident-free driving history and has never happened again.
The relevance is that it took me some time to really believe that I had been so stupid to have hit the clutch instead of the brake. I can easily see how someone might hit the accelerator instead of the brake and have a "sudden spontaneous acceleration" experience. I can also see how easily it would be to be in denial about that having happened, especially if the result was some damage to your or another's vehicle.
I would bet a lot of the reports of sudden acceleration were actually just pedal error like mine.