A six month federal study stemming from the Toyota brake failure investigation found that most of the incidents were caused because the drivers panicked and stomped the wrong pedal; the gas instead of the brake, and that nearly all of the incidents occurred in a Toyota hybrid called the Prius.
After researchers explored this common factor they found that the Prius’s Lithium Ion battery was reacting with it’s aluminum housing and giving off a chemical known as Seletron which blocks synapses in the brain and can even cause seizures. This can alter the driver’s abilities to receive and process information which leads to irrational driving, such as spontaneously changing lanes without any indication, hitting the gas instead of the brake, or stopping in the middle of highway on-ramps. These symptoms are what most likely created the myth that Prius drivers are stupid.
While there judgement for buying a Prius can be questioned, their awful driving abilities are of no fault of their own.
David Blare drives a delivery truck for TastyKakes and spends a lot of time driving on the highways. When he found out about the study, he says it clicked, “I mean a lot of the people who drive those battery boxes look like smart people. But as soon as they get in their cars they are puttering all over the highways randomly slamming on the brakes and driving slowly down the middle of the highway. It’s like they aren’t aware that other drivers are skidding and crashing all around them. That sort of makes sense now.” Blare also thought it explained the pro-Obama bumper stickers and left wing environmental political leanings often associated with the Prius cult.
While that’s Blare’s own interpretation, the National Highway Safety Administration has put together a flier with some safety tips motorists should employ when meeting Prius’s on the highway. The following is an excerpt:
–Don’t blow your horn in impatience at the Prius. This can cause further confusion and disorientation and will only hamper the hybrid driver’s awareness even more.
–Don’t ram the Prius. While this will remove the inconvienence, it is important to think of the emergency personel who will risk electrocution while cutting apart the wreckage of the Prius.
–Don’t throw stuff at the Prius when you pass it. This is littering and can cost you a ticket from the local police force.
–Don’t let the driver of the Prius get under your skin. It’s not their fault that they are acting stupid. Remember that the chemical their car is creating has hampered their ability to reason. Please wait until a passing zone to careen around the hybrid.
see a full tip sheet here
Regardless of the new findings, hybrid sales have been on the rise due to America’s stubborn refusal to utilize clean diesel engines. This means that the problem will not easily go away.
“It’s important to spread the word,” says Jane Jillian, administrator of the National Highway Safety Administration. “Friends don’t let friends drive hybrids.”