A Texas teen who had just come of age to receive his driver’s license was taken on a terrifying ride at more than 100-mile-per-hour speeds after his car’s accelerator became stuck.
The incident, which happened in early December in North Texas, involved a 2011 Hyundai Elantra and 16-year-old Elez Lushaj, who could be heard telling 911 dispatchers in the report aired by WFAA to “please, just do anything” to help him.
WFAA News 8 reported dispatchers trying to coach the teen who called them from the road as he was weaving in and out of highway traffic to avoid collisions, unable to slow down. Putting the car into neutral, turning it off, braking — none of it worked.
A police officer was sent after Lushaj to help clear traffic in front of him. In the station’s video report the officer said that even though the teen didn’t have much driving experience, he was doing a fine job keeping the car under as much control as he could.
“He just stayed right on the highway — never tried to get off, never tried to do anything evasive,” Rockwall County Deputy Tom Williamson said. “It’s pretty crazy. Being in his shoes, he did a good job driving.”
Williamson’s cruiser dashcam captured some of Lushaj’s wild ride. Watch the report with this footage:
The car eventually was stopped, but it was not a pretty sight. News 8 reported that a semi-truck pulled in front of Lushaj, causing him to lose control and flip in the vehicle four times. He broke several bones in the accident but was conscious when Williamson reached him, according to News 8.
News 8 only reported Lushaj’s father calling the whole situation a “nightmare” and noted that the family is considering litigation.
As for what happened to the car itself, it might sound similar to the issue many Toyotas were having that prompted a recall in 2009. Hyundai spokesperson spokesman Jim Trainor wrote in an email to News 8 that it was “extremely unlikely” for all systems to fail at the same time the way it seems they did in this case. He also noted that he hadn’t heard anything of this case prior to the station’s contact.
As News 8 pointed out though, in May last year a similar situation appears to have happened in South Korea. A dashcam captured a car speeding through a city before it crashed — the couple cited a stuck accelerator as the problem.
Here’s that footage:
Last year, Hyundai decided to start inputting a throttle override system into all of its cars.
“With Hyundai’s brake pedal throttle override capability, any brake pedal input by the driver, even with a runaway throttle condition, completely overrides any throttle malfunction,” said Robert Babcock, director of certification and compliance affairs for Hyundai’s technical center, according to Auto Trader. “It is no longer possible to have increasing engine power once the brake pedal is depressed by the driver. This adds a reassuring, incremental safeguard of control for Hyundai drivers.”
Auto Trader also noted a proposal by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that would require throttle override systems in all cars less than 10,000 pounds. The proposal made in April 2012 has not yet been approved.
This story has been updated to correct a typo.
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