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back to article Satanic Renault takes hapless French bloke on 200km/h joyride

A disabled French driver was taken on a 200km/h white-knuckle ride by his "insane" Renault, as a quick shopping trip turned into a high-speed, 210 km jaunt to Belgium. Frank Lecerf, 36, left Pont-de-Metz, close to Amiens, in his Renault Laguna 3 to hit the shops in nearby Dury. His route took in a short section of the A16 …

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Re: Assume it was an auto box.

Disabled guy suddenly expected to put in 10x the control input to either break or stop at 200km/h???

what could possibly go wrong.

re: electronic keys: my mondy has keyless ignition (the fob needs to be more or less in the car, for the start button to work) and i recently tested it, leaving the engine running and strolled off with the fob in my pocket - no effect (sensibly - imagine it got carelessly chucked out of the window on a motorway)

havent tried pressing the start button while moving, but i would not be at all surprised if that had no effect either.

(note to self: try giving the start button a prod the next time you are on an otherwise deserted road)

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Re: Assume it was an auto box.

Disabled guy suddenly expected to put in 10x the control input to either break or stop at 200km/h???

As has been noted elsewhere we know nothing about the disability so that is just speculation. It is also ridiculous to say that manual steering require some kind of superhuman strength - plenty of people do it every day, yes, even disabled ones. It is finally absolute nonsense to suggest the steering is actively locked with the ignition off - as I showed even a moment's thought shows it to be complete and utter twaddle made up on the spot.

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Re: Assume it was an auto box.

Some cars DO lock the steering if the ignition is off - non powered steering is OK at speed though, it's the slow speed manoeuvres that require strength

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Re: Assume it was an auto box.

Most cars give you non powered steering unless they kick in the immobiliser. (and what sort of frigging idiot would allow that to kick in while the vehicle is in motion?)

Even if you were locked going in a strait line, personally I would find this preferable to being locked at travelling at 200KPH until you strike something or run out of fuel. At least you could find a nice long stretch of strait road and kill the dammed thing.

I'm stunned that something this safety critical has obviously such a shoddy attitude towards safety.

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Boffin

Re: Assume it was an auto box.

I've driven vans where the steering lock engages when the engine stalls. Terrifying if it happens just as you're pulling out across traffic from a side road!

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Re: Assume it was an auto box.

Who made that van?

Just so I know the avoid anything that manufacturer makes, ever.

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Re: Assume it was an auto box.

If it's servo assisted and the servo goes away it is MUCH harder to steer dumkopf! (thats kinda what the servo is there for!) - this apples to servo assisted breaks and steering

had you ever had a servo fail while driving then you would understand, clearly it hasn't happened, and you don't.

my car is fitted with a steering lock, and the lock is engaged when the ignition is turned off, and the steering wheel is turned more than a few degrees.

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Re: Assume it was an auto box.

As for disability, yes i put my hands up, pure speculation on my part.

but that article did mention he was disabled, from this i made the massive jump that that meant he was _officially_ disabled, this is of course a slippery slope!

I then assumed:

He wasn't blind

He wasn't a quadriplegic

He wasn't subject to eplilepsy

He didn't suffer from acute cerebral palsy

He wasn't in the later stages of parkinsons, ALS or MS

He didn't suffer from narcolepsy

He didn't have Alzheimer's or CJD, or any degenerative CNS condition

as all of the above preclude driving at all

this kinda leaves paraplegic or any other form of infirmity of the lower limbs.

or possibly missing all or part of an upper limb.

my bad! he could have been deaf (although having conversations with the plod, as mentioned in the article, would have been precluded if he was profoundly deaf)

plus all the mods i have ever seen done to any car to assist the disabled have been based around their legs not working too well/at all, or them missing an arm.

hence the issue of vastly increased control input.

but you are correct, i didnt really think about it :-D

i guess he could have been hard of thinking, clearly someone is around here.

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Re: Assume it was an auto box.

The Courrier Picard article mentions epileptic seizures. Though, how he was still allowed to drive wasn't mentioned.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Assume it was an auto box.

Every car I have used has steering lock if the key is out of the ignition, I have no idea what people do when being towed but I suspect that they have the key in the ignition and thus the lock, being mechanical, is disengaged. Have no idea what happens in keyless cars like the one in the article, but it would make sense to assume that the lock is automatically engaged either in power off, or parked position.

Manual steering in a car without powered steering is quite easy, unfortunately there is something about adding the powered steering that makes steering without power very difficult ... as I found out to my surprise after my car stalled going into a corner at speed ... not to mention that the brakes don't work too well without power ... try steering while you're standing on the brake pedal ... not as easy as you seem to think.

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Re: Assume it was an auto box.

Actually, you are quite wrong here - I had a friend who was quadraplegic and drove an adapted car very successfully. I know quite a few people with severe cerebral palsy who also drive (there is no such thing as "acute" cerebral palsy).

My own vehicle has a fairly standard "paraplegic" set up, but I have seen a lot of different modifications over the years on a lot of quite unusual vehicles. People with a very wide variety of disabilities can drive, nobody should make assumptions about what is possible without knowing the individual case in detail (which here we definitely do not.)

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Vic
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Re: Assume it was an auto box.

> Some cars DO lock the steering if the ignition is off

[Citation needed], 'cos I've never seen one that does.

Vic.

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Vic
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Re: Assume it was an auto box.

> If it's servo assisted and the servo goes away it is MUCH harder to steer

It's harder, that's for sure. But it's not a feat of Herculaean strength to steer - particularly at speed. Many of us grew up on cars without PAS...

> had you ever had a servo fail while driving then you would understand

I have had exactly that happen to me. That's why I know it doesn't require superhuman strength to control...

> my car is fitted with a steering lock, and the lock is engaged when the ignition is turned off

I really, really doubt that. It's almost certain that the steering lock engages once the key has been fully removed.

Vic.

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WTF?

"he drove the car off the road when it ran out of petrol."

…Wait, what? The damn car finally runs out of petrol, and he that's when he decides to drive the car off the road? This contradicts the info that he had a full tank of gas. Half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark, and we're wearing sunglasses.

Regarding the whole story, I'll misquote Thomas Jefferson and state that I would sooner believe that a French guy would lie than that a car would keep accelerating no matter what the driver did. Brakes, gearbox, ignition keys… There is an awful lot of things that would need to go wrong in exactly the right way for this to happen.

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Re: "he drove the car off the road when it ran out of petrol."

There would be an awful lot of things that would have to go wrong, but this is not the first time it has happened. There were several cases with Toyota's with the exact same problems, with several deaths.

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Boffin

Re: Toyotas

No, there weren't. They suffered from a mildly sticky accelerator pedal, and some idiots with floormat fetishes.

GJC

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Re: Toyotas

@Geoff

Sorry Geoff but this has definately happened before, this one only had to travel 40Km....

Cruise control problem Toyota

At the bottom of the article they mention that this has already happened before with at least one other Toyota. Following which Toyota did a recall, or at least in France they did.

The page is in French , you can do a Google Translate if required

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Stop

Re: "he drove the car off the road when it ran out of petrol."

"There is an awful lot of things that would need to go wrong in exactly the right way for this to happen."

There are an awful lot of cars on the road. The chances that ONE of them will suffer the precise combination of faults to send it on such a spree is statistically enormously likely.

The chances of winning the lottery are 1-in-14m, but if enough people enter, someone is bound to win...

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Gav
Mushroom

Why get back in the car?

Also consider that he claims it had happened before, almost exactly the same, and nothing wrong had been found and nothing modified on the car.

If I had been taken on a trouser-filling 200km/h ride by my car, and then been told to go back out in it because nothing was wrong, I would be taking the bus, train, walking, anything rather than getting back in that demon vehicle.

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Re: Why get back in the car?

If he's disabled he might have had no other usable means of transport.

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Re: Why get back in the car?

>I would be taking the bus, train, walking, anything rather than getting back in that demon vehicle.

Some of which options aren't available to all disabled people.

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Re: "he drove the car off the road when it ran out of petrol."

you are forgetting the computer that sits between all these things and the driver

computers going wrong...........

could happen i suppose :-D

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Facepalm

Re: Toyotas

....and Toyotas definately shut down if you hold down the start/stop button for ten seconds, as is clearly stated in the handbook.

Not to mention that sticking your foot under the pedal and freeing it from the floormat (a bleedin' obvious thing to try) solves the problem.

Cause of death? Lack of interest in self-preservation.

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Re: Toyotas - @Khaptain

Excepting that (1) the breaks on a Prius are rather powerful and can easily overcome the engine, (2) you can force the gearbox into neutral while on the move (some early models let you shift to Park, which could be a bit exciting) and (3) the electronic key doesn't lock in the dash when it's running.

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Re: Toyotas definitely shut down if you hold down the start/stop button

So you press Start to stop - any Windows user should be familiar with that concept.

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Re: "he drove the car off the road when it ran out of petrol."

…Wait, what? The damn car finally runs out of petrol, and he that's when he decides to drive the car off the road? This contradicts the info that he had a full tank of gas. Half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark, and we're wearing sunglasses.

No engine = no power assisted braking or steering. He might not have been able to control the car properly without the power assist. And a ditch is probably a lot more forgiving than the central reservation or another car.

Maybe the French police need to look a the reinforced steel tube bars that they fit to American police cars to allow them to push other cars or assist in cases like this. On the Pennsylvania roads there can be no hard shoulder on the Interstates so the cop uses the tube arrangement (and there rubber pads on it too) to push the car to safety at the nearest off-ramp (never lived in PA but driving through once I saw it being done)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Toyotas

They might mention it, but it's still proven rubbish.

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Headmaster

Re: "he drove the car off the road when it ran out of petrol."

"The chances of winning the lottery are 1-in-14m, but if enough people enter, someone is bound to win..."

Not necessarily it's just quite likely that someone will win. The chances of everyone choosing a different number are very high so there are plenty of numbers that have no winners the only time you can guarantee there will be a winner is if an infinite number of people enter. Weirdly at that point you'll have an infinite number of winners and an infinite number of non winners.

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Re: Toyotas - @Khaptain

Park while moving isn't exciting, it is noisy as the mechanical bit that fits into the slot to hold the car in place when stopped will be ratcheting away. Try it a walk speed.

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TRT
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Re: Toyotas - @Khaptain

Prius-

The keyfob *IS* locked into the dash whilst the car is in ACC, II or READY mode. There are sprung teeth which hold the fob in.

The parking mechanical bit does not engage if the car is in motion, the computer takes care of that, and it's a weird arsed 11-toothed gear that engages a 10-toothed hole or something like that.

But this is by design to prevent the car tearing itself to pieces. The vehicle HAS been designed to offer various emergency stop at speed scenarios. It's a seriously over-engineered piece of kit, and the various "acceleration" issues are either faked or idiotic drivers.

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Re: "he drove the car off the road when it ran out of petrol."

It's easy to be an armchair critic (I'm directing that at myself) but perhaps grinding the car into the armco might have slowed it down enough to safely deploy a stinger. You wouldn't actually have to hit anything head on, just pull alongside it then move closer and closer until you hit it then gradually increase the pressure. Or use that concrete wall they are fond of over there.

Also where there is a steep grade there is often a gravel trap for run away trucks, it's unlucky he didn't pass one! Given his issues with the car, he probably would have been ok with writing it off and getting a pug as a replacement!

Any other ides on how to stop a run away car?

If nothing else this has convinced me that electronic throttle controls are not worth it!

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Re: Why get back in the car?

Does it really need to be said.

It was on the adivce of a Renault software engineer to see if the same thing happened again.

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Mushroom

Re: "he drove the car off the road when it ran out of petrol."

Whenever incidents like this occur, almost always the driver lied, was confused, or had some kind of behavioural problem.

There have been cases of runaway cars - the US Fords that had a cruise control that could be triggered

by mobile phone frequencies for example - but even in those cases, turning off the ignition would have stopped them.

I'd argue that unless it's been tampered with, there is always a way to stop a car from inside it. Even a fly-by-wire Renault. Just hold down the start/stop button.

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Re: "he drove the car off the road when it ran out of petrol."

You don't need power steering when moving at speed and French motorways tend to be fairly straight. Vacuum assistance for braking is maintained for at least a couple of full depressions of the pedal after switching off and even without that a switched-off engine in the drivetrain tends to slow a car down quite quickly.

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Re: Why get back in the car?

Re: Why get back in the car?

If he's disabled he might have had no other usable means of transport.

Oh, we'll that makes using a car that he knows to be defective perfectly alright then.

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Re: Toyotas - @TRT

Not entirely true. In the 2nd generation Prius I tried it in the key fob only locks in place if the vehicle has been moving. Powering up and engaging gear don't cause it to lock and you can still pull the key to shut it off, which is what threw me.

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Vic
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Re: "he drove the car off the road when it ran out of petrol."

> grinding the car into the armco might have slowed it down enough to safely deploy a stinger

A stinger would only have made things worse.

The car would still be accelerating - at least until it started shedding tyres - but the driver would have lost any semblance of control...

Vic.

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TRT
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Re: Toyotas - @TRT

I shall try that tonight...

You know the best thing about owning a Prius? The drinks holder is just the right size for my wheatgrass and acanthus smoothie.

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Re: Toyotas - @TRT

I thought the best part about owning a Prius was giving much less of your hard earned cash to the tax man. I previously had a Jaguar S Type (just old enough to avoid the higher rates of road tax, but still heavy on the go juice), I estimate it should save me about £1000/year (for a low milage driver and ignoring insurance).

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TRT
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Re: Toyotas - @TRT

It works out about the same for me. I swapped my old Rover metro auto for a Prius when it died. The VED covers 75% of the loan repayments, the fuel cost is the same per mile as the Rover, it drives pretty much the same. The congestion charge discount, I've just lost thanks to bl**dy Boris. It's hardly worth investing the extra cost of the car for just two years. The servicing is more expensive, as it requires pretty specialised tools for many jobs and I used to do the servicing on the Rover myself... but the fact I've not had to dip into my spares and repairs fund yet is good - the Rover was always in need of a new exhaust or a new radiator pipe or whatever.

Anyway, I tried out the key trick, and it clamps my key on READY regardless of whether it's been moving, put in gear or anything.

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Re: Toyotas - @TRT

I'm guessing that you've got a 1st gen model then (average MPG went up from about 41 to 45 between the two, the former being about equal to a Metro automatic. 3rd gen models are still exempt from the congestion charge), or a heavy right foot. My 2nd gen seems to take about 10 minutes to get fully warmed up, following which MPG is almost always on the upper side of 50 (maximum efficiency being somewhere between 50 and 60MPH where it's hitting high 60s MPG average).

Either the difference in locks is down to different models or mine is a little dodgy, what can I say?

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TRT
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Re: Toyotas - @TRT

No, mine's a Gen 2 same as yours. The way I drove my Metro, I got consistently better than the book mpg, and my Prius is quite a high mileage - with town driving which I do mostly, it's returning an average of about 48. On the motorway I can get 60-70 by hyper-mileing, same as you!

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Re: Toyotas - @TRT

No hyper-mileing techniques used here, just accelerate up to the local speed limit and engage cruise control (there's quite a lot of 50mph urban dual carriageway around where I live).

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Anonymous Coward

Still looking forward to cars that drive themselves using on-board computers and GPS and communication with other cars?

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JDX
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Yes. A small % of crazy computers is far better than a large % of dickheads.

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Hmmm. How many % of the computers you work with has ever worked error free (not to mention that one of these things will be a version 1 of a company that has never really left beta stage for most of its products?).

I see your point, but I think it's a bit early to invest trust in one of those contraptions. I rarely buy a v1 of anything :)

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"Stop the car, Hal."

"I'm sorry, Dave. I can't do that."

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Anonymous Coward

"How many % of the computers you work with has ever worked error free?"

The ECU in every car I have ever owned worked 100% error-free every day I used them.

The calculator on my desk has never crashed.

The Voyager I probe and the Opportunity rover are still operating in a hard vacuum bombarded by intense radiation, years after their projected lifetime has expired.

It is possible to write reliable software. Hard, but possible.

Some people have even heard of testing.

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it was channeling the spirit of a Vel Satis

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FAIL

So whats the guys problem?

If it was manual why didn't he just dip the clutch and put it out of gear and (prob) blow the engine, And even it it was an automatic can you not just slip the car into neutral and do the same?

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