Authorities consider measures after near fatal accident.
Statens vegvesen (the Norwegian Public Roads Administration/NPRA) says it’s considering imposing a temporary driving ban on the Toyota Prius.
The possible veto comes after last week’s lucky escape by a motorist who was driving on the E18 motorway towards Lillesand in Agder municipality, when the accelerator pedal in his 2009 automatic model jammed.
“My father had been travelling at speeds up to 176 km/h, and was doing over 100 when he called the police. He tried to use the brakes, but it didn’t help,” the 49 year-old man’s son told VG.
According to police, the terrified motorist rang at 12:26 to tell them he couldn’t stop his car, and only managed to bring the vehicle to a halt after driving in to crash barriers.
The man received only minor injuries in the collision, and was sent to the emergency room as a precaution.
Toyota has had to recall eight million cars worldwide produced between 2004 and 2009 after there have been several similar accidents involving their cars, but this is the first time it has happened in Norway.
Erik Aalling, head of the NPRA’s vehicle engineering section, says they are considering issuing a temporary driving ban if motorists are at acute risk.
“We can demand that the recalled models have to remain stationary until they have been checked, if we consider the incident on the E18 to be serious enough,” he says.
Meanwhile, Lars-Erik Årøy, director of Toyota Norway, discounts this, saying they’ve already written to the customer to assure him the cars are safe.
Toyota’s technical experts have checked the car, but haven’t found anything wrong with it so far. An NPRA representative is also in place.
Espen Olsen, head of information for Toyota Norway, underlines he doesn’t doubt the motorist experienced a problem, and the company regrets what has happened.
However, he says they believe it was most likely the floor mat that had jammed underneath the accelerator pedal, as it wasn’t secured properly.
“We have already encouraged our patrons to check to see if the driver’s floor mat is secured to the floor with clips according to regulations. One shouldn’t use rubber mats on top of textile ones, or unoriginal mats that aren’t made for either the car or the shape of the accelerator.”
Årøy says Toyota has now offered to buy the car back so they can double-check there are no problems.