• Feb 14, 2013


A French man was heading to the supermarket when his car decided it didn't want to stop, according to The Guardian.

The resulting escapade took him on a high-speed car chase at speeds up 125 miles per hour as police tried to stop him. It ended, after an hour, when the car ran out of gas, and driver Frank Lecerf crashed the Renault Laguna into a ditch.

Lecerf said the car first jammed when it was going around 60 mph. Every time he tried to brake, the speed increased, eventually hitting 125 mph.

Lecerf told Le Courier de Picard that the gas pedal had stuck before, and every time it stuck he brought it in to the Renault dealer to be repaired. The mechanics would keep the car for two or three days, and say there was nothing wrong with it.

His lawyer told the paper they will sue Renault for endangering the lives of others.

Sudden acceleration -- the term for cars that keep going even when the driver wants to stop -- has been an intermittent problem for automakers over the years. Most recently, Toyota recalled more than 10 million vehicles for gas pedal issues. They discovered water could condense in the gas pedal and cause them to stick open, and they also found floormats could stick under the pedal and keep cars accelerating.

Toyota just settled its sudden acceleration cases for an undisclosed amount, but the company told shareholders they'd set aside $1 billion to settle the various cases around the globe. On Thursday, Toyota said it had settled with the attorneys generals of 29 states who'd had sudden acceleration cases fall within their districts. They agreed to pay out $29 million to the states, and to avoid advertising with safety claims unless those claims are backed by engineering data.

Renault won't likely face the same fate, unless multiple drivers come out saying their cars have accelerated without their control. The car Lecerf drove was altered to accommodate a disability, and alterations often void warranties.

When Toyota faced its sudden acceleration claims, many people asked why the drivers didn't put the car into neutral. Even on automatic cars, vehicles can be shifted into neutral while driving to stop the engine from revving and controlling the car's speed. It's the No. 1 piece of advice AOL Autos could give to drivers facing the same issue, and even before -- practice putting the car into neutral while driving at speed, and then putting it back into drive. It's easy, and can help regain control in panicked situations.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 88 Comments
      dal
      • 1 Year Ago
      Smart advice there at the end of the article, practice putting your car in neutrol while at speed then putting it back into drive. Make it an instinct more than a reaction. practice makes perfect and the more folks pratice safe driving the happier I am on the road.
      fueler335
      • 1 Year Ago
      Threr's a thing called a key,and another called a transmission shift lever.Use of these two things in conjunction will bring the car to a stop. People that panic like thi shouldn't leave their house.
      nychubby
      • 1 Year Ago
      Should have just put the car in Neutral
      • 1 Year Ago
      omg. turn off the key, put it into netrual, omg. happened to me once in a 1967 Mustang. Put it into netural immediately and it stopped accelerating and I shut off the engine with a key. Simple, easy. such stupidity. scary for him, yes, for for an entire hour??? think, man, think!!!
        Rick Yesrod
        • 1 Year Ago
        And just how much computerized technology did that ignition have in 1967 compared to the mentioned car, The days of relying on mechanical common sense are ending. Can it not be theorized that with an all computerized car that turning off the ignition and placing the transmission in neutral do absolutely nothing due to the failures of a computer?
      garryangel
      • 1 Year Ago
      What a joke ... If you don't know how to stop a car then you shouldn't be driving one. Put the car in neutral, brake to a stop, and turn off the engine. How difficult is that?
        musomesa
        • 1 Year Ago
        @garryangel
        If you read many of the comments many don't know.
      STAN
      • 1 Year Ago
      Just turn of the ignition,it's that simple.Happened to me in a full size chevy van in 1980 on a very cold frosty morning,the linkage got frost on it and stuck.Just turned the key off.If this person was driving that long with it like that and didn't have the brains to turn the key of or shift to neutral they really need to be reevauated as a driver.
      turboawdftw
      • 1 Year Ago
      thank you frank leidiot. wish the car wasnt that safe and you somehow made yourself sterile because of the crash, because idiots like you should not be allowed to procreate.
      • 1 Year Ago
      these people shouldnt even be driving if they cant figure out to turn off ignition put it in neutral if they cant turn it off
      thankgodikauai
      • 1 Year Ago
      its by wire system
      Freddie
      • 1 Year Ago
      I had a '68 Ford Fairlane that broke a motor mount & accelerated to the max & the brakes wouldn't stop it. Took the key out but it kept running. Shifted to neutral & finally got the rpm's down. Scary! If you have a runaway engine....sometimes all the normal things to shut it off don't work. And you're usually in a panic about then so maybe we should cut the guy a little slack. That being said...one would think he could have done something in that hour! (I wonder if he got a ticket...the article didn't say!)
      bnpage577
      • 1 Year Ago
      If turn the switch off on some the vehicles it locks the steering so putting in Neutral is best. It is better to let the engine go, rather putting others at risk. Need just a bit more information on the braking system on this vehicle, which should have stopped the car.
      joynerz
      • 1 Year Ago
      I really believe the rare occasions of this occuring was a result of people going off the deep end and having an 'attack' of mental incapacity causing them not react correctly. Granted, there have been some stuck accelerators from a rusty mechanism and car mats stuck on the accelerator, but in the isolated cases where one did not put the car in neutral and apply the brakes, they were just tripping out.
        slloyd414
        • 1 Year Ago
        @joynerz
        I disagree. I had just pulled into a parking space and put the car in park (and for whatever reason it was a very difficult shift) when the motor started racing and the RPMs were way up. It had never done this before and has never done this since. But with all the electronics on cars these days, it doesn't surprise me at all.
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