What is sudden acceleration?

Sudden acceleration is one of the most deadly automotive defects in history. It occurs when a car’s electronics cause the throttle to go wide open, making it impossible for the driver to return the car to idle if it remains in gear. It also severely limits the ability of the brakes to bring the vehicle under control -- leaving the unsuspecting driver at the mercy of a runaway car. Thousands of people, including drivers, passengers, and innocent bystanders, have been killed or seriously injured in sudden acceleration accidents.

What causes sudden acceleration?

Sudden acceleration is caused by a malfunction in the electronics that control a vehicle’s powertrain. Since the introduction of electronics into throttle control mechanisms, cases of sudden acceleration have risen dramatically. Advancements in technology have made cars safer, but vehicle electronics increase in complexity every year. As a result, the possibility of malfunction remains, and sudden acceleration is still a very real threat.

Because sudden acceleration is caused by an electronic defect, it leaves no visible traces in its path. Unfortunately, automakers have seized upon that fact to blame the drivers; innocent people have even been deemed criminally responsible as a result.

Car companies often claim that sudden acceleration is the result of driver error, but there is no evidence to support this claim.

When does sudden acceleration occur?

A sudden acceleration may occur at any time during the drive cycle. Prior to 1995, the majority of occurrences happened when the vehicle was at a standstill and shifted from park to drive. Since then, because of design changes in vehicle electronics, most occurrences happen while the vehicle is under way. Any number of driver inputs can give rise to sudden accelerations, such as shifting gears, applying the brakes, disengaging the cruise control, etc. These conditions can cause a disturbance in the electrical current and trigger a dangerous malfunction.

What kinds of cars are susceptible to sudden acceleration?

Most cars on the road today are susceptible to sudden acceleration. Sudden acceleration incidents emerged around the time electronic speed control was introduced, and persist to this day. The phenomenon has been reported in virtually all makes and models of vehicles, from the late 1970s to current model year vehicles. Sudden acceleration is often reported in brand new vehicles, and most commonly occurs within two years of a car’s manufacture.

What should you do if you experience sudden acceleration?

Put the car in neutral. No matter the RPMs of an engine, a car cannot accelerate without being in gear. If putting the car in neutral fails, shut off the engine (NOTE, shutting off the engine while a car is moving can be dangerous, as you will lose power-steering and brake-assist…. this method should be a last resort only). Once you have the car under control, shift it to park and turn off the engine. This should clear the fault. In many cases of sudden acceleration, the brakes alone are not enough to stop a car at wide open throttle. As a result, shifting to neutral is always the best option.

Multiple Sudden Accelerations

If your car has suddenly accelerated on more than one occasion, you should not drive it! A significant percentage of automobiles that have experienced one sudden acceleration will experience repeat sudden accelerations. Nevertheless, the driver will be told by dealerships that there is no problem with the vehicle because car companies have never informed the dealers about the root cause.

What is being done about sudden acceleration?

We are actively involved in researching the causes of sudden acceleration in virtually every model on the highway. If you have been injured as a result of a sudden acceleration, your case may provide us with valuable additional information, and may help to save lives. Please send us your information using the ‘Contact Us’ form located below.

In The News

Is Toyota Telling the Truth About Sudden Acceleration? March 26, 2013

2011 Kia Sorento Unintended Acceleration Mishap Sends Woman To 120 MPH Across Iowa; Kia Investigates The “Isolated Incident” August 29, 2012

Automakers Blame Drivers, But Settle Unintended Acceleration Cases February 29, 2012

Speeding driver rescued by Abu Dhabi police February 28, 2012

Out of control vehicle rolls on Highway 87 near Walmart entrance

How Ford Concealed Evidence of Electronically-Caused UA and What it Means Today February 1, 2012

Toyota’s fix is a bust, owners claim March 3, 2010

Toyota’s Crisis Puts Spotlight on Auto Electronics February 26, 2010

Cause of Sudden Acceleration Proves Hard to Pinpoint February 25, 2010

Could electronics be what’s causing runaway cars? February 23, 2010

Toyota boasted it saved $100M with limited recall February 21, 2010

Toyota calls in Exponent Inc. as hired gun February 18, 2010

Toyota Halts Sales of 8 Models in U.S. for Pedal Flaw January 27, 2010

Safety of cars’ keyless entry and ignition systems questioned January 24, 2010

Toyota’s recall may spread to Europe January 23, 2010

Toyota issues new recall for 2.3 million vehicles January 22, 2010

Its Complicated: Concerned Citizen Drops a Dime on Toyota January 21, 2010

TOYOTA RECALL: Reports of Runaway Cars : Four Dead in Dallas Crash Where Problem Floor Mats Found in Trunk

Toyota Driver: ABC News Videos Helped Save My Life

Consumer Reports Blog: Analysis shows over 40-percent of sudden acceleration complaints involve Toyotas December 7, 2009

Data point to Toyota’s throttles, not floor mats November 30, 2009

Toyota to replace 4M gas pedals that could jam November 25, 2009

Toyota looking beyond the mats November 19, 2009

CONSUMER REPORTS – How to stop a runaway car: Dont pump the brakes November 10, 2009

Regulators slam Toyota over ‘no defect’ claim

Runaway Toyota cases ignored November 8, 2009

Owners of Toyota Cars in Rebellion Over Series of Accidents Caused by Sudden Acceleration November 4, 2009

***Toyota Recall Information*** October 25, 2009

Toyota’s runaway-car worries may not stop at floor mats October 20, 2009

Sudden-acceleration cause proves divisive October 4, 2009

Deadly By Design


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Contact Us

If you would like to report a sudden acceleration incident or need legal advice regarding a sudden acceleration-related accident, please call us at 419-624-3119, or use the contact form below.

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Court Cases






Sudden Acceleration Publications

Sudden Acceleration – The Myth of Driver Error

Put the Brakes on Runaway-Vehicle Defenses

Faulty Cars or Faulty Drivers?

Lawyer Pioneers ‘Sudden Accleration’ Claims