Uncontrolled acceleration: Stopping runaway car

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The latest instance of sudden, uncontrolled acceleration in a Toyota – an incident Monday in which a Prius hit 94 mph on a freeway east of San Diego before the driver got it under control- raises the question: What do you do if this happens to you?

Police and driving experts interviewed Tuesday said the best hope for the driver of a runaway car is to brake firmly, use the emergency brake and shift into a lower gear or neutral – although they cautioned that, depending on the circumstances and the model, there’s no guarantee doing all that will work.

One expert, John Schembra of Concord, who teaches emergency driving to police around the state, said that if braking doesn’t slow down the car, turning off the ignition might be the safest tactic – so long as you’re traveling on a straight road and the car hasn’t yet hit high speeds.

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