This is news to me:
“Zhu reportedly told police that the car may have malfunctioned and that it began accelerating* on its own. ABC7 news has learned that investigators brought in an engineer from Mercedes Benz and experts from the California Highway Patrol to look into that possibility. Court records state that they ‘found there were no mechanical issues that could explain unintended acceleration.’”
Other reports had driver Jennie Zhu even unwilling to speak to her attorney.
That makes this accident look more like a run-of-the-mill case of pedal misapplication.
I’ll just say that if her foot had been on the brake and she was pressing hard, there’s no way that her car would have done what it did.
Here’s a brief checklist of things you can do when your car takes off on you:
Make sure your foot is on the brake pedal (because it’s not there the way you think it is**)
Use your emergency brake
Throw the gear selector into Neutral.
Turn off the ignition by turning your key to the left (or do whatever you had planned to do to turn your car off after you arrived at your destination)
Scrape up against parked cars on either side of the road in order to slow down
Those are just a few ideas.
Solving this mystery would have been helped if driver Jennie Zhu had been more forthcoming. At this point, it’s very possible we’ll never know the full details of what occurred.
But her telling the police that the Mercedes just took off on her is probably good enough to keep her from any jail time in SF, IMO. This is a much better story than her saying that she was in a hurry and was trying to beat the red lights on a street that, more or less, has timed*** lights.
At the end of this thing, nobody’s going to believe that the car just took off on its own and she had her foot hard on the brake the whole time.
*”Unintended acceleration resulting from pedal misapplication is a driver error wherein the driver presses the accelerator when braking is intended. Some shorter drivers’ feet may not be long enough to touch the floor and pedals, making them more likely to press the wrong pedal due to a lack of proper spatial or tactile reference. Pedal misapplication may be related to pedal design and placement, as in cases where the brake and accelerator are too close to one another, or the accelerator pedal too large.”
**Now if you want to make your brakes fail by boiling your brake fluid through misuse like that guy in SoCal did with his Prius, well then be my guest. But the accident you cause will be on you.
***More or less. But on this stretch of Pine, it’s possible a jackrabbit start will get you through a few yellow lights and on your way westward. Depending on the traffic, this might save you a minute or two when travelling from Polk to Buchanan on Pine.