Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Stuck throttle / sudden acceleration that almost killed me (WOT)

I reported a possible defect in my 2005 Dodge RAM 1500 to Chrysler Canada that caused a serious accident. Chrysler was not in the least bit interested in conducting an investigation to determine if there was a life threatening problem with their product. Chrysler needs to conduct a recall and fix the problem before people die from this.

Scroll down for graphics.  Here's a link to a video of the aftermath (note: conditions were dry the night of the accident): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rXbJ6p4NAmA

I'm tired of the skeptics who say these types of incidents can only be driver pedal mixup or floor mat problems. However, I must admit, before it happened to me, I'd have been one of them. Also, its easy to say "just put it in neutral" which is obvious in hindsight, but I panicked and it all happened so very fast.

My first reaction was to try to brake hard... but the powerful HEMI engine overrode the brakes and I kept accelerating into a turn.... next I tried to turn off the ignition but the lateral forces in of the high speed turn combined with trying to hold onto the steering wheel while standing on the brake pedal caused me to fumble and I couldn't find the keys in time. In a situation like that you can't take you eyes off the road- it was in city rush hour traffic with cars and pedestrians everywhere.

Also in my case, this was a secondary vehicle for me and the keys are in a different location from normal daily driver, and so is the gear shifter. All I can say is when lives are at risk and you don't know what is going on, your brain doesn't have time to think rationally of all the options. This incident caused me to learn a little humility which I hope the skeptics take to heart before it happens to them.

If anyone else has had a similar experience, please let me know by email: davidtowert@gmail.com.

Here's some links to similar reports:


Thank you,

Here is a portion of the detailed report:

February 23, 2009

Mr. E. Dickmans
Customer Service Manager
Chrysler Canada
PO Box 1621
Windsor, ON N9A 4H6

Via mail and fax: 519-973-2318

Re: xxxxxxx – Vehicle Malfunction Safety Report: 2005 RAM 1500
This letter is report a potential safety issue with one of your products, namely the 2005 Dodge RAM 1500 Hemi.

On December 16th at approximately 5:30pm, I was involved in a motor vehicle accident caused by the throttle getting stuck. The accident occurred at the corner of Cambie St. and Pacific Blvd. in Vancouver, BC. The roads were dry and the temperature was approximately minus 8 degrees Celsius.

Refer to the diagram below: There are two lanes south bound on Cambie Street as you approach Pacific Blvd. I was driving south on Cambie in the right lane without passengers and had come to a stand-still in traffic waiting to turn right onto Pacific Blvd. The left turn lane was clear and the traffic light was green so I pulled out and changed lanes from a stand-still. I was under relatively heavy acceleration in the left turn lane to get up to the speed limit, about 50km/hr, to reach the intersection before the light changed.

As I neared the intersection, I took my foot off the accelerator to slow down for the turn. The vehicle did not respond as expected. Instead of slowing down, it seemed to accelerate even harder, as if an invisible person next to me reached over and floored the gas pedal. My immediate reaction was to brake as hard as I could in an attempt to override the engine and slow the vehicle down. Unfortunately, even though I was pressing the brake pedal as hard as I could, the vehicle seems to continue to accelerate. I do recall sensing the ABS braking system working on the front wheels.

Realizing that the vehicle was not slowing, I tried next to find the keys to kill the engine while attempting to make the turn while continuing to brake. Due to panic, and the speed and turning forces, I fumbled trying to find the keys and before I knew it, the vehicle mounted the curb then crashed into the traffic light pole. The pole snapped from the force and the air bags deployed. Fortunately there were no pedestrians in the way.

A police constable witnessed the crash and responded immediately. The fire department attended the scene. I was transported to hospital by ambulance and spent the evening there where they ran a battery of tests including: constant blood pressure and pulse monitoring, blood tests, urine tests, EKG, X-ray, and CAT scan. I was released with a fractured sternum (and rib too I think) which took 6 weeks to heal enough for me to resume my normal exercise routine. At this time my rib is still tender.

Canada Safety has done an initial mechanical inspection on the vehicle and has verbally advised that the data recorder needs to be examined to assist in determining the cause of the throttle malfunction. I have been in contact with a local dealer who said they would need a court order from Chrysler to perform the analysis. Please advise if this is true or if there is another way to accomplish this task.

I have a 28 year driving history with no accidents or even speeding tickets since the early 90s. This accident was caused by a serious malfunction therefore I believe the public is at risk if the problem happens again therefore I am seeking your assistance to determine the cause.


David Towert

Arial view of accident location with notes:

Other Information:

Witness: Constable Branco, Badge #xxxxx, Voicemail: 604.xxx.xxxx
Police report: 08-240654 (Note: the police did perform a breathalyzer test on me - result was 0)

To view the vehicle damage, please see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rXbJ6p4NAmA
(filmed on Dec 17th 2008 – note that there was no snow at the time of the accident).

Disclaimer: Chrysler Canada has not admitted that there is a known problem with the throttle system. It is my opinion that a mechanical or electrical defect caused the throttle to become fully engaged and remain so until the crash. Floor mats were ruled out as a cause and I believe it was a drive-by-wire malfunction. The acceleration was as if the pedal was held down with a brick, i.e. it kept accelerating even as I stood on the brake pedal.

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