Runaway Kia Sorrento in Iowa

An Iowa woman expressed her happiness to be alive today after she was unable to stop or slow her 2011 Kia Sorrento for nearly 56 miles on an Iowa highway.  Her vehicle reached speeds of almost 120 mph as she darted in and out of traffic on the busy highway.  Lauri Ulvestad, 47, explained on the Today Show this morning that she first realized something was wrong when she felt the steering wheel shake.  She initially called her husband who advised her to make sure nothing was under the accelerator and then to try to move the car into neutral.  After those attempts failed, her husband told her to call 911, which she did.  She attempted to turn off the vehicle using the keyless ignition button, to no avail.  Eventually, she was able to stop the vehicle by pulling on the accelerator while pushing on the brake multiple times.

On Monday, Kia Motors America issues a statement to NBC:

“Kia Motors America places a priority on vehicle safety and takes reported customer concerns seriously. Upon learning of this incident from the customer, KMA requested an initial inspection and test drive of the vehicle by authorized Kia service technicians and alternate transportation has been provided to the customer. Our technicians have been unable to duplicate the issue and this appears to be an isolated incident. KMA will continue to investigate and analyze the facts of this situation and will work with the customer to resolve the matter in a timely manner.”

Whatever the cause of unintended acceleration, the best defense is to know how to safely regain control of the car safely. Consumer Reports has long argued that the best strategy to stop a runaway car is to press and hold the brakes and shift into neutral.   Modern cars have rev limiters, which will protect the engine from over-revving.   But, as we learned through Ms. Ulvestad’s experience, the gear shift may not always cooperate.  What we do know from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports is that that pumping the brakes at full throttle can make a bad problem even worse.  NHTSA points out that some drivers can “react by applying the brake pedal multiple times, depleting the braking system’s (vacuum based) power assist.”  The best advice for consumer’s that might face a sudden acceleration of their vehicle is to remain calm and contact 911.

Add Comment