Woman Dies From Runaway Prius

A woman driving in the Middleburg community near Jacksonville was fatally injured Sunday after being involved in a two-vehicle accident, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

The 67-year-old woman from Venice, Florida was initially hospitalized in critical condition. The accident occurred on Blanding Boulevard at County Road 215. Investigators believe that she drove her Toyota Prius into the path of a southbound Ford SUV, failing to stop at both a stop sign and a flashing red light. The accident happened about 5:15 p.m. so it was still light enough to see. The SUV was driven by a Jacksonville man who suffered minor injuries.

Both individuals were wearing their seat belts. The woman died at Shands Jacksonville hospital.

The Toyota Prius has had its problems with unintentional acceleration.

While the story here does not say if that was a problem it certainly should be considered as part of any investigation. Other drivers have found themselves behind the wheel of the accelerating Prius they have no control over and have reported the incidents to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

One of them involved a Texas woman, as reported by Paul Knight of the Houston Press earlier this year. The woman suddenly felt the Prius hydroplaning out of control. She found the brakes were dead. Suddenly the car shut down and the woman found herself fighting a steering wheel that could not be controlled. She finally went off an exit ramp and came to rest in a parking lot. She was a lucky one, others have not been so lucky. NHTSA has conducted two Prius investigations so far. The one in 2005 involved the car’s cooling system.

We have no idea if the Prius played any role in this car accident or whether the driver was distracted and just unfamiliar with the roads. Blanding Boulevard has some of the worst intersections in Jacksonville. Many accidents occurred on the very crowded road at multiple state roads it crosses.

But sometimes even something like a tree branch covers a stop sign because a municipality has not been careful. Out condolences and prayers go to the family of this woman.

Sources: http://jacksonville.com/community/my_clay_sun/2009-12-10/story/woman_injured_in_weekend_middleburg_crash_has_died