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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  1. Anonymous Coward 101

    What was the nature of this man's disability? Just wondering...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I just spat brake fluid over my keyboard

      1. mark 63 Silver badge
        FAIL

        hmmm

        These keyless cars seem to have some huge security and safety issues that they reallydont seem to have thought through.

        Theres a reason race cars (and Buses) have kill switches - to make it easier to stop .

        All these bullshit cards and fobs are just making it harder.

        I bet they even put in a "engine cannot be killed at speed to prevent losing brake assist" rule

        1. LaeMing Silver badge

          Re: hmmm

          We can probably assume the emergency stop feature was tried, since he called the support line and that would, presumably, be the first thing the tech would have told him to try.

          ...

          Well second then, after "try closing all the windows". :-D

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: hmmm

          Ermm... don't know about race cars, but what buses do have is a battery cut-off switch. It is not to "make it easier to stop" the bus though, it's there to help (allegedly) in the event of an electric fire.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Devil

      What was the nature of this man's disability?

      Being French.

      1. CCCP
        FAIL

        I think you'll find...

        @IAS

        ...his problem is being judged by xenophobic readers. Or poor comedians.

        Actually, it's not the French slur, they are French after all. It's comparing disability to a comedy nationality. AFAIK, he never blamed/mentioned his disability. Hence we don't know what it is.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: I think you'll find...

          More poor comedian than xenophobe. But what is the world coming to if an englishman can't be gratuitously rude about the French?

          As a serious point though, there's nothing wrong with making jokes about disability in general. People being over-sensitive is far more of a problem. Plus 'comedy nationalism' is a speciality of British humour, and last time I checked this site ended in .co.uk.

          I suggest you lighten-up.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I think you'll find...

          CCCP, you must be French, judging by your lack of a sense of humour.

          And by the way, you seem to have misspelled your own name: it is not "CCCP", it is "СССР".

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        You bigotted bastard, I know some really nice disabled people.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          are any of them French - of course not, thery're really nice.

          1. Eddy Ito Silver badge
            Joke

            Re: @I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

            "of course not, thery're really nice."

            With fava beans and a Chianti of course.

        2. Richard Altmann

          Re: @I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          are they french?

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          "You bigotted bastard, I know some really nice disabled people."

          I do not know what it is about car-related articles that seem to attract the mucho macho brigade so much. Stupid losers without a sense of humour or much of an intellect (I suspect the former requires the latter) by the looks of it.

          I was one of the two who upvoted btw, nice bit of humour, if perhaps a bit too subtle for this article's readership. Congrats anyway, made me chuckle. :)

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
            Facepalm

            Re: @I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

            I must admit it was a bit too subtle for me... I read it several times, and still couldn't decide if it was being rude about me, or another go at the French.

      3. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart
        Coffee/keyboard

        Being French.

        Remember, "The French have a city called Breast and don't find it funny" - Al Murray

        Icon for I ain't Spartacus

  2. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    Hmmm

    Do these cars that take their driver on high speed joy rides not have ignition switches?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hmmm

      I've seen some new cars that don't have traditional keys but a kind of electronic tag thing. That combined with French electrics could prove "interesting".

    2. NightFox
      Alert

      Re: Hmmm

      Although the story doesn't give much detail on his disability, it's quite possible that the car's (presumably automatic) controls were specially adapted for him and this is some way compounded the issue of not being able to stop.

      Even with a standard auto box, there's that much electronic locks etc on it to protect the engine that there's no guarantee it could have just been put into neutral at speed

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: Hmmm

        "Although the story doesn't give much detail on his disability, it's quite possible that the car's (presumably automatic) controls were specially adapted for him and this is some way compounded the issue of not being able to stop."

        Having read the rest of the comments, it appears that far too few people have picked up on this point. We are talking about a fly-by-wire car that has been modified in ways unanticipated by the original designers and is now being driven by someone who (at best) will only have skimmed the part of the instruction manual that tells you how to kill the whole car in the event of a catastrophic malfunction.

        1. Daniel B.
          FAIL

          Explicit Kill Switch

          The engineer in me shouts that any design where you require an emergency kill switch should have a BIG, RED BUTTON called EMERGENCY STOP, easy to find (but not so easy to trip it during normal use) so that even the most stupid person can press it in an emergency.

          1. Rampant Spaniel

            Re: Explicit Kill Switch

            Funnily enough my bike has one, although it is in a place where it is frequently knocked :) Thinking about it, I can't recall a modern bike that I have ridden that doesn't have a kill switch of some kind on the handlebar, usually in an easy to reach \ knock position.

            There are two problems that I can see, 1- somebody will always accidentally knock it, sods law says they do this and injure themselves and sue you and 2- if there is a sufficiently clever way of doing it, most buggers won't ever read the manual anyway. When I get a bike I get the shop manual and read it. I take it home, take it apart and put it back together because I'm deeply cynical and don't fancy riding around on something put together by the works exp kid who had 20 other bikes to de-crate and prep. Some folks go SHINY TOY and the destruction manual lives in the glove box\desk drawer collecting dust.

            Whilst you are entirely correct, I think even if they did it we would still get these stories or ones about people accidentally turning off their car and crashing. We just let too many morons survive.

            1. Kurt S

              Re: Explicit Kill Switch

              The reason its on the handlebar, so easy to reach, looks so obvious and is in the same location on every bike is simple: in case of an accident and the driver being pinned anyone can quickly kill the bike before assisting the driver.

              In fact the use of the killswitch was the first thing I was instructed in on my very first lesson prior to getting my permit about 10 years ago.

              Also I wonder how one would accidentally throw it while riding normally as it would mean taking your hand from the gas lever.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Explicit Kill Switch

                Kurt, youve obviously never had someone ride along side you, reach over and flick it :)

                We were so bad we used to tie our keys onto the mirror stalks with laces, because otherwise at the lights when your keys were whipped out you had 10 minutes searching the bushes for them while your nemasis made good their escape.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: tying keys to handlebars

                  So So true.

                  One day we stop at the lights in my (850cc totally standard) mini, next to a hotted V8 or some such, with beautifully exposed and chromed engine gubbins. Cue obligatory revving and rocking on the handbrake. Just before the light changes, my mate leaps out, pulls a great handful of plug cables off their engine, and off we roar (ok - toddle).

                  Laugh: I nearly shat.

                2. Rampant Spaniel

                  Re: Explicit Kill Switch

                  Oh so true!! Another one is friends trying to knock your sidestand down. Not great at lights, worse mid corner. I do appreciate the kill switches on bikes, I just notice that I do tend to flick it quite often when putting the cover on the bike and for some reason it's never the first thing I check when it won't start (I'm not a quick learner I guess!).

                  As for hands off the gas, this is true although you can ride no hands without much problem. All you need is 'budget cruise control' which requires no more than a rubber washer to provide a little friction and is not prone to random acceleration to full throttle.

          2. ecofeco Silver badge
            Trollface

            Re: Explicit Kill Switch

            Stop making sense!!

          3. keith_w
            IT Angle

            Re: Explicit Kill Switch

            I once worked for a company that had a big red kill switch in the computer room by the door, and also beside some communications equipment that I frequently had to access. This big red kill switch was not protected by a box and I twice activated it shutting down the IBM mainframe. The boss promised me that if I did it again, I would be seeking new employment. The next time it happened I was, fortunately, at my desk. 2 days later it was covered with a transparent plastic flip-cover. The same computer room was also protected by a halon fire suppression system. The temporary hold -to-kill switch for that was on a wall approximately 20 feet from the telephone that you would have to use to reach the security center that would be able to disarm the Halon system if there were no fire.

          4. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

            Re: Explicit Kill Switch

            All cars should have a mechanical handbrake that kills the ABS power when lifted. It's not such a large kill switch to unsafely disable the car but it's enough to stop when the electronics are malfunctioning. (I've been in Cavalier with crap electronics. If the ABS says you can't use the brakes then you really can't use the brakes. The pedal pops up with more force than even the pedal can withstand.)

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Explicit Kill Switch

              You do realise that manufacturers are getting rid of the handbrake.

              The paranoid would wonder if this fly by wire is little more than an elaborate ploy by the powers that be to assassinate people.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: handbrake

                A parking brake is necessary. It is an essential item on the MOT. This is not going to change any time soon.

                Also, questions are denoted by question marks. See?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hmmm

          True. Although you can't help wonder why the software engineers didn't build in some sort of safety feature whereby if it detects throttle open and brake signal at the same time (for say > 5 seconds), that it would significantly cut the fuel delivery so that the brakes would be able to overpower the engine and slow the vehicle. I doubt many people need to use left foot braking and therefore would never realise the safety feature was there until needed.

          1. Tim Starling

            Re: Hmmm

            > Although you can't help wonder why the software engineers didn't build in some sort of safety feature whereby if it detects throttle open and brake signal at the same time (for say > 5 seconds), that it would significantly cut the fuel delivery so that the brakes would be able to overpower the engine and slow the vehicle.

            That depends on the computer actually receiving something it recognises as a brake signal. If the input layer of the software was at fault, then that might fail. Maybe it could be done reliably with a separate microcontroller, but then if someone, say, modified the car to use hand-operated brake lever, the engineer who modified it would have to remember to connect the new brake lever to both the main system and the safety backup.

        3. Fink-Nottle

          Re: Hmmm

          > a fly-by-wire car that has been modified in ways unanticipated by the original designers

          According to reports, the police were in contact with theRenault's tech department during the incident. There was no mention of contact / attempted contact with any third party modification manufacturers, which leads me to believe that the car did not have after-market adaptions.

    3. Electric sheep
      Facepalm

      Re: Hmmm

      Assuming its the same system as my Laguna MkII, you put a credit card type key into the dashboard and and then press a button to start the car. When the engine starts the key card is locked in place. When the car is moving the stop/start button is ignored.

      1. Law
        Alert

        Re: Hmmm

        "Assuming its the same system as my Laguna MkII, you put a credit card type key into the dashboard and and then press a button to start the car"

        In the new laguna's and scenic's you don't even need to insert the key card - just have it on your person somewhere when in the car and the car will start.

      2. Morphius

        Re: Hmmm

        In the current megane and clio, the card doesn't have to be put into the dash, having it on your person is enough to start ther car, whereby it isn't needed again (save to keep the car from beeping at you non-stop saying the card is not detected if you take it out of the car). With the car in motion the stop/start button doesn't work, however if you press it twice or more in quick succession is kills the engine no matter what speed you are doing (I tried it to see how dangerous that button was).

        My guessing is that if he has hand controls then this could be making the problem much more complicated (assuming he has those) as a button to accelerate or brake could easily be ignored by the car itself. It almost sounds like the ECU is getting confused and thinking any incoming signal is one that suggests go faster.

      3. TeeCee Gold badge
        WTF?

        Re: Hmmm

        When the car is moving the stop/start button is ignored.

        I think you'll probably find, if you RTFM, that in common with other cars having pushbutton ignition, holding the thing down for a few seconds will stop the engine in an emergency, regardless of what the thing's doing at the time.

        I'm afraid that the book that came with it is not provided purely to occupy empty space in the glovebox. For stupidity value though, you have to give a special mention to Mercedes (I think??) who placed the manual in a hidden compartment behind the glovebox in one of their models. The instructions on where to find the manual were written on, er, the first page of the manual.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Devil

          Re: Hmmm

          In one of my more irritable moods..

          After years of fighting with devil possessed computers, that REQUIRE the off button to be held in for a whole 4 seconds...

          I now have a computer with BIG mechanical toggle switches, that say, "Fuck You" + click = OFF

          The very thought of having to HOLD in an OFF switch for several seconds, while the car catapaults down the drive at 200Kmh - immediately drives me fucking insane (insaner???)

          Failing the idiot manufacturers to include a simple vestige, in lieu of something terribly complex and intractible, i.e. a mechanical kill switch, I would unhesitatingly labotomise the engine and electrics with a rather large hand gun, with all rounds, merrily sailing through the dash board and firewall.

          Yasamite Sam, "When I say woa, I mean WOA"

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hBhlQgvHmQ0

          AKA the Renault.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hmmm @Electric Sheep

        That sounds dangerous, my car has keyless entry, keyless start, but can still be turned off while driving... it makes sense...

    4. Da Weezil
      FAIL

      Re: Hmmm

      My sister has a 54 plate Megane DCi that has Keycard ignition... I'm not familiar with the electrickery that they have harnessed to this Gallic witchcraft. I know someone who has a 2003 Laguna that was one of the most unreliable cars I have ever seen, covering almost as much mileage on the back of beaver-tail trucks as it did on its own wheels.

    5. Tringle
      FAIL

      Re: Hmmm

      Actually, no, Renaults don't have ignition switches. They are operated by wireless remote keyfobs.

      The whole car is 'fly by wire' and this isn't the first time this has happened to a Laguna. If it was an automatic, quite likely as he is a disabled driver, then the gearbox is fly by wire too.

      So basically all he is left with is steering.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hmmm

        "So basically all he is left with is steering."

        Hehe! Just like Airbuses (the only mechanically linked control surface is the rudder).

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "The whole car is fly-by-wire"

        No, it is not.

        EU regulations mandate that there is a mechanical linkage in both steering and braking systems.

        Hydraulic brakes are also designed in such a way that there are two independent circuits - usually each circuit controls one front brake and the opposite rear brake. This means that in the case of a failure in one circuit, the driver will still be able to apply a reasonable and balanced braking force.

        Maybe the car was an automatic - although (stupidly) the story doesn't mention it this is the only way he would not have had the option of declutching or selecting neutral.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hmmm

      "Do these cars that take their driver on high speed joy rides not have ignition switches?"

      The Laguna as a remember tends to come with one of those proximity cards. All cars that I have driven in the last few years all have electronic (as opposed to mechanic) ignition.

      But more importantly, why do you ask? Cutting the ignition will block the steering well on *any* car.

      1. Vic

        Re: Hmmm

        > Cutting the ignition will block the steering well on *any* car.

        No it won't.

        It may disable the power assist, but it will only disable the steering on cars with no physical steering column.

        Removing the key will tend to engage the steering lock - which is why you shouldn't do it...

        Vic.

  3. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Assume it was an auto box.

      Steering wheel lock?

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. the spectacularly refined chap

        Re: Assume it was an auto box.

        Steering wheel lock?

        What about it ? Do you think the towing eye would be any use whatsoever if the steering was locked whenever the ignition was off? You would have no power steering, nor power brakes for that matter, but they'll work fine purely mechanically.

        1. Naughtyhorse

          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)

          1. the spectacularly refined chap

            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.

            1. John Robson Silver badge

              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

              1. Peter2 Silver badge

                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.

                1. 142
                  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!

                  1. Peter2 Silver badge

                    Re: Assume it was an auto box.

                    Who made that van?

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

              2. Vic

                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.

            2. Naughtyhorse

              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.

              1. Vic

                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.

            3. Naughtyhorse

              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.

              1. Gray Ham

                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.

              2. Sirius
                Thumb Down

                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.)

            4. Anonymous Coward
              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.

  4. ratfox Silver badge
    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.

    1. ryanp

      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.

      1. Geoff Campbell
        Boffin

        Re: Toyotas

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

        GJC

        1. Khaptain Silver badge

          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

          1. Steve Todd

            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.

            1. wayne 8

              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.

              1. TRT Silver badge

                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.

                1. Steve Todd

                  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.

                  1. TRT Silver badge

                    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.

                    1. Steve Todd

                      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).

                      1. TRT Silver badge

                        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.

                        1. Steve Todd

                          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?

                          1. TRT Silver badge

                            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!

                            1. Steve Todd

                              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).

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Toyotas

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

        2. TeeCee Gold badge
          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.

          1. Pookietoo

            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.

    2. Psyx
      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...

      1. Fuzz
        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.

    3. 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.

      1. Christoph Silver badge

        Re: Why get back in the car?

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

        1. bobbles31

          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.

      2. Dave 126 Silver badge

        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.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        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.

    4. Naughtyhorse

      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

    5. An0n C0w4rd

      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)

      1. Rampant Spaniel

        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!

        1. Vic

          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.

      2. Terry Barnes
        Thumb Down

        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.

    6. Terry Barnes
      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.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

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

    1. JDX Gold badge

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

      1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

        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 :)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          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.

      2. Swoop

        "Stop the car, Hal."

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

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    it was channeling the spirit of a Vel Satis

  7. P.Nutt
    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?

    1. Swarthy Silver badge
      Go

      Re: So whats the guys problem?

      Given that it was a newer car with a "Start/Stop button" - that wouldn't respond - I am assuming drive-by-wire, break-by-wire, and an automatic gearbox, if all of the -by-wires stopped taking input from the cabin, he should be glad it wasn't steer-by-wire.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So whats the guys problem?

        "break-by-wire"

        Too true it seems.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

          Re: So whats the guys problem?

          Even anti-lock systems can only fail to be non-anti-lock rather than no-brakes

          Sadly not - that was one of the things they discovered when they started to check just how easy it was to hack onboard car electronics. I can't remember which university it was, but the people researching this managed to disable the brakes in full - remotely. I found that *very* worrying.

          This is why I like some form of kill switch - I have worked far too long with computers to let them have the last word unless the engineering is very well established (hello, Airbus). "Do no evil" doesn't quite cut it for me..

          1. DavCrav Silver badge

            Re: So whats the guys problem?

            "I can't remember which university it was, but the people researching this managed to disable the brakes in full - remotely. I found that *very* worrying.

            This is why I like some form of kill switch"

            In some sense, the ability to remotely disable brakes is a kill switch, though not the type you might want.

          2. Steve the Cynic

            Re: So whats the guys problem?

            "This is why I like some form of kill switch - I have worked far too long with computers to let them have the last word unless the engineering is very well established (hello, Airbus). "Do no evil" doesn't quite cut it for me.."

            And for those who disbelieve this, the words "Therac-25" might be instructive.

            To save you all some time: The Therac-25 was a software-controlled radiation therapy machine, with an interposable set of filters to produce X-rays instead of beta particles. In X-ray mode, the electron power was much higher than in beta particle mode. Unlike older (and newer) machines, however, the "full power" setting was not locked out electrically / mechanically when the filters were absent - instead, the software was expected to do it. A race condition in the software meant that it was possible to accidentally overcome the software interlocks and deliver an X-ray-sized dose of beta particles. Three people were killed, and a number of others had severe radiation poisoning. I first read about this in the aptly-titled book "Fatal Defect".

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "Breaks" etc

              You do realise that no-one is going to take you seriously if you are too stupid to spell correctly the name of the component being discussed, despite it being written right in front of you?

    2. stizzleswick

      Re: So whats the guys problem?

      The article did mention that the clutch pedal was inoperative.

  8. SirDigalot

    I never believe these stories

    I think after the whole Toyota fiasco over here, consumer reports did a test to see whether stomping on the brake would stop the car, it did in all cases even at wide open throttle, it took longer but even worked on higher horsepower cars ( I even tried it on my older car to see how if it would work, not to mention a few rentals it has stopped the car every time)

    if it was an auto, or even a manual they still normally let you drop them in neutral the laguna does have one of those annoying start button things, but it also has a regular looking gear selector I assume it is not locked in drive like the majority of other autos aren't.

    I think the issue is that people panic, which is understandable and as was already mentioned we do not know his disability, maybe he had some special conversion so could not operate the vehicle like an able bodied person, maybe it was the customization that caused the issue, that's the only thing I can think of that would create situations like these.

    1. Fuzz

      Re: I never believe these stories

      It doesn't sound like this guy panicked. He seems to have calmly phoned the emergency services who gave him some advice which didn't work and so he agreed with them to end up in a ditch.

    2. ian 22
      Happy

      Re: I never believe these stories

      My bollocks detector was triggered by the association of "200Kph" and "Renault", particularly as the area described has no steep inclines.

      Regardless, the story would have been cut short if the car had been electric.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I never believe these stories / "Fly-by-wire" misunderstanding

        Quick research indicates that both the clutch and the brakes in the Renault Laguna are, as expected, of standard hydraulic operation. As usual for any motoring-related story, there are lots of fools spouting rubbish on this thread without having a clue what they are talking about.

        The "fly-by-wire" aspect applies only to the accelerator/throttle, in the same way as almost all other modern cars including my 2004 Golf. The choice of ignition security method (key/card) has nothing to do with this.

        It is not desirable to have an electrically-operated manual clutch (it would be crap, harder to use, and unnecessary weight and expense) and in order to conform to EU safety standards the brakes must have a mechanical link.

        Therefore in order to be in a position where use of the brakes and clutch were not possible there must be some additional factors at play that have not been mentioned by the news outlets.

        As previously mentioned the brakes will always be able to provide enough force to stop the vehicle even if servo assist has failed and the engine is at full throttle.

        Think about what they are designed for. It is necessary to stop a vehicle in a shorter space than is required for it to accelerate to any given speed. Otherwise they would not be drivable and there would be far more accidents!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          To clarify the last paragraph

          A vehicle's brakes are always stronger than the engine. They have to be.

          Best to clarify what my point was there, as based on past experience commentards are not very good at inference. At least, not at inferring the correct meaning.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Downvotes

          If you're going to vote a perfectly good post down you could at least give everyone the courtesy of indicating what was said that you don't agree with or are not happy about.

          I know it would be completely off-the-wall but you could maybe even give some reasoning or references to back up your arguments...

        3. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

          Re: I never believe these stories / "Fly-by-wire" misunderstanding

          in order to conform to EU safety standards the brakes must have a mechanical link.

          Yup - but it goes via ABS. Which is where UCSD found they could influence proceedings enough to kill that off.

          However, in this case I agree up to a point. Once you're up to a certain speed you have an awful lot of kinetic energy stored in the vehicle, I'm not sure you could get it to stop completely when the engine was still going full tilt, also keeping in mind that an uncontrolled automatic will downshift as you go slower, thus giving the engine more torque to work against the brakes. This is why you should always retain mechanical control over at least one of them: if you cannot kill the engine because it's kept alive by malfunctioning gadgetry, you should be able to kick the gears into neutral. Having both "automated" appears to be begging all the Gods of chance on your knees for problems.

          I can't see any of us trusting a computer enough to allow it to act on its own - so I wonder just how many people will trust their lives to Google driving tech..

  9. Captain TickTock
    Headmaster

    Herquelingue...

    is near Boulogne, not Dunkerque

  10. Andre Carneiro

    No brakes?

    The whole story sounds very odd. Not saying it's impossible, as I don't really know whether the Renaults have "brake by wire", but I find it strange that all the brakes (including the parking brake) were inoperative...

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: No brakes?

      Is it safe to put on your parking (hand?) brake at 100mph on a road with other cars?

      1. Arnold Lieberman

        Re: No brakes?

        Won't do much as it will only put mild pressure on the rear brakes. Net effect will be just like having to tow a dead weight, so might reduce acceleration. I do know of someone who managed to do a whole motorway journey in her Range Rover with the handbrake on - I think a new set of pads/disks was all that was required.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: No brakes?

          To paraphrase a comedian I once heard: "I accidentally drove five miles with my 'emergency brake' on, which makes me think it has the wrong name. It should be called the 'emergency make my car get bad gas mileage and smell funny after a while handle'"

        2. Alister Silver badge

          Re: No brakes? - Range Rover

          Arnold Lieberman wrote:

          I do know of someone who managed to do a whole motorway journey in her Range Rover with the handbrake on - I think a new set of pads/disks was all that was required.

          It's probably safer to drive a Range Rover at speed with the handbrake applied than it would be a normal car, as the handbrake acts on a separate disk on the back of the gearbox, rather than on individual wheels.

          The only danger is breaking the half shafts if you apply the handbrake suddenly whilst moving.

          1. TeeCee Gold badge
            Headmaster

            Re: No brakes? - Range Rover

            ..as the handbrake acts on a separate disk on the back of the gearbox...

            The seperate transmission brake on Land Rover vehicles is actually a drum brake. Apart from the obvious advantages in having all the vulnerable bits inside a drum casing rather than dangling exposed under the car, drums are superior to disks as hand / emergency brakes as they are, by nature, self-servoing.

            1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

              Re: No brakes? - Range Rover

              >> ..as the handbrake acts on a separate disk on the back of the gearbox...

              > The seperate transmission brake on Land Rover vehicles is actually a drum brake.

              Actually, I believe most (all ?) of the new models no longer have this. DIscovery 3/4 have parking brakes which are a set of shoes that work inside a drum which is part of the disk hub - and applied electrically. My mate tells me they change a lot of the actuator assemblies when they seize up.

              And in any case, if you do have a transmission brake, then you really do not want to be trying to use it at speed. I know people that have ripped the backplate off the gearbox, and if that doesn't happen, there's still the propshaft, diff, and driveshafts to let go. The transmission brake is usually not very smooth either - so you'd be applying not just the braking effort, but a lot of cyclic variation (ie vibration and shock) to the rear axle etc.

              As to the "you can always turn it off" brigade. In theory you can, but if there's a computer/electronics fault then there is never any guarantee that "press and hold the start button" will actually turn off the engine. The only (almost) guaranteed method is to have a physical switch that will physically remove power to some required service (fuel supply or ignition).

              Also, as pointed out, we don't know the extent of the driver's disability, and whether he would have been capable of taking a hand of the controls to press and hold a button for long enough to kill the engine.

              As an aside, when the 'first' 'new' Range Rover (P38) came out, there were a couple of reports of people careering down hills, in neutral, with no brakes. Nothing wrong could ever be found, and there was never any proof either way - Land Rover never accepted any problem existed. It is thought the process went like :

              Attempting steep/slippery hill. Fail with wheels spinning. Apply brakes and attempt to engage reverse. Car rolls backwards at speed.

              The theory was that the spinning wheels confused the ABS into thinking it was skidding and so it took the brakes off to correct the skid - allowing the car to roll back down the hill. Meanwhile, the "fly by wire" gearbox refuses to engage reverse while the vehicle is moving. So no brakes, in neutral, on a hill steep enough that you failed to get up it.

              I've seen how fast a vehicle can pick up speed on such hills. "Exciting" probably doesn't do justice to the experience !

              1. Jess--

                Re: No brakes? - Range Rover

                Older range rovers have an inertia switch under the back of the passenger seat, its designed to shut the fuel pump off if the vehicle is in an accident, well within reach of the driver and can be tripped by pulling or pushing the plunger on the top (cant remember which) of flicking it with a finger.

                unfortunately a lot of people found it can also be hit by children's feet from the back seat, it was quite common to see them "broken down" on the side of the road because a child had been waggling feet in the gap under the passenger seat

            2. Alister Silver badge

              Re: No brakes? - Range Rover

              @ TeeCee

              quote: The separate transmission brake on Land Rover vehicles is actually a drum brake. Apart from the obvious advantages in having all the vulnerable bits inside a drum casing rather than dangling exposed under the car, drums are superior to disks as hand / emergency brakes as they are, by nature, self-servoing.

              Depends on what age of vehicle - my Series 2 and 3, and my early 110 had a drum transmission brake, but my later Ninety and later Range Rovers had a disk brake. In my experience, the drum brake filled with either water or oil from the transfer box, and became quite ineffectual, not a problem with the disc.

            3. Psyx
              Stop

              Re: No brakes? - Range Rover

              Ummm... OP said Range Rover, not Land Rover.

              Of course, pulling on the handbrake of an old Land Rover while it's in motion really does break things! I snapped a shaft once trying to drive off with the handbrake on.

          2. Psyx
            Happy

            Re: No brakes? - Range Rover

            "It's probably safer to drive a Range Rover at speed with the handbrake applied than it would be a normal car, as the handbrake acts on a separate disk on the back of the gearbox, rather than on individual wheels.

            The only danger is breaking the half shafts if you apply the handbrake suddenly whilst moving."

            The handbrake won't/shouldn't be able to cause enough of an upset to break half-shafts.

            Generally it's fine to just drive off with a handbrake applied and drive around. It buggers the brake linings, but I've known of several people who have done it by accident.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: No brakes?

          An old auto Honda estate I once owned had messed up brakes, the rear brakes sometimes failed to disengage if the handbrake had been used ... many a journey ended seeing smoke rising from the rear ... the heat from those brakes was amazing.

      2. Rob
        Coat

        Re: No brakes?

        Perfectly safe if your intention is to flip the car into your police escort.

        1. Psyx
          Go

          Re: No brakes?

          "Is it safe to put on your parking (hand?) brake at 100mph on a road with other cars?"

          Yes, it is. So long as you're driving in a straight line and apply it gently. It doesn't offer much in the way in braking capability, but it's better than nothing.

          Try it sometime (CAREFULLY!), if for no other reason than to have another tool in your arsenal should you ever experience brake failure.

          Handbrake turns work because the car is slewed sideways with a quick flick in one direction and then a turn in the opposite direction as the handbrake is applied. The rear wheels can then lock. The direction change is more down to the steering input.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: No brakes?

        > Is it safe to put on your parking (hand?) brake at 100mph on a road with other cars?

        Mine has a gadget that physically prevents the handbrake being applied, and sounds a buzzer alarm, if you try and use it while moving (as I found out when I tried to do a couple of handbrake turns in a snowy carpark recently - spoilsports)

      4. Vic

        Re: No brakes?

        > Is it safe to put on your parking (hand?) brake at 100mph on a road with other cars?

        Yes, if you do it judiciously. I used to do it on a regular basis

        It was part of the test many years ago...

        Vic.

    2. John Lilburne

      Re: No brakes?

      The electronic parking brake on my car won't work whilst the vehicle is moving. It only works when the car is stopped.

  11. ukgnome
    Coat

    Get ready for rush hour

    A French man must prevent a bomb exploding aboard a Renault by keeping its speed above 50 mph.

  12. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Joke

    Not satanic, just sanic!

    "I had a full tank, it could have kept going for a long time. I didn't want to continue till I reached Holland."

    Shurely someone who would have liked to have a Tesla.

    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge
      Coffee/keyboard

      Shurely someone who would have liked to have a Tesla

      There goes another keyboard, hahaha.

  13. TrishaD
    Stop

    Bonjour, Frank, je m'appelle 'Christine'.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've got a Scenic 3. If you hold down the start/stop button it will stop the engine no matter if you're driving or not, my BMW does the same.

    I've also got keyless entry, so this is particularly useful when you drive away from your wife who has the key and you don't. Cue lots of pleasedon'tstall prayers all the way home, followed by a dose of howdoiturnitoff.

    The handbreak is electric.

    1. Law

      "I've also got keyless entry, so this is particularly useful when you drive away from your wife who has the key and you don't. Cue lots of pleasedon'tstall prayers all the way home, followed by a dose of howdoiturnitoff"

      I've gone to park and my wife has gotten out of the car before... had the same issue of "howdoiturnitoff". The one time I drove off without the key though it threatened me with some sort of "I'll turn the engine off so you might want to get off the road and park in 3....2....1" message - that was scary.

    2. Tom Wood

      WTF is

      wrong with a "normal" key?

      Why did they even invent keyless entry etc?

      1. Law

        Re: WTF is

        If you have kids it makes total sense, no messing with keys while carrying baby and/or toddler and their change bags.

        Sadly my car has failed to auto lock a few times and some scroat stole my TomTom remote, which is the only way to control the unit in the car. Renault charge 60 for them, but the nice thieves will sell it back to you for 25 on eBay. :-)

      2. Corinne

        Re: WTF is

        We used to have an old Granada Mk 1 (lovely old tank it was), and couldn't work out why it was that occasionally the engine would cut - only when my father was driving it with MY keys though. Eventually worked out that sometimes the long rigid fob on my keys would touch my father's knee with just enough pressure to turn the key in the ignition to the off position. Never happened with his keys as they had a different fob to mine, & didn't happen with me because my knee was in a slightly different position to his when driving.

      3. Terry Barnes

        Re: WTF is

        "Why did they even invent keyless entry etc?"

        Key locks are easy to defeat. Keys themselves are trivially easy to copy. Governments put pressure on the car industry to make cars harder to steal. They removed the weakest point in car security - the keys and locks.

  15. FartingHippo
    Facepalm

    Why not....

    ....just put a police 4x4 in front of him, and use it's not-inconsiderable braking power to slow down both cars. No way a Laguna could push a Land Cruiser (or similar) with brakes applied, unless their whole police force drives Renault 12s with comical sirens.

    1. Morphius

      Re: Why not....

      Why risk it? Straight bit of motorway, mile or so ahead kept clear by police. Surely, rather than risk the lives of those involved in undertaking this, it is safer to just let the fuel run out which flat out couldn't take that long. Having to clear 000's of miles of motorway fast lane is still cheaper than at least 2 lives lost due to a 100mph+ accident.

      However if we are thinking outside the box, a helicopter, with a winch, speed matched to the car, snatch it from the road and then just slow down, keeping the car 5 inches from the ground... The A-Team would have managed it!

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Why not....

        Or you could just shoot the engine, like in Blackhawk Down.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Why not....

          No - a real movie plot would have the french guy from MI/Leon/Ronin hack into the car's computer with a laptop (that oddly has only a 16x4 character display) while dangling from a helicopter

    2. Da Weezil
      Happy

      Re: Why not....

      how about Renault Dauphines.. driven by Clouseau look-alikes.

      "Zat car is going like a berm...."

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why not....

      just put a police 4x4 in front of him, and use it's not-inconsiderable braking power to slow down both cars

      That only works in the movies - you create a risky dependency on the abilities of the driver in question.

      1. moiety

        Re: Why not....

        >just put a police 4x4 in front of him, and use it's not-inconsiderable braking power to slow down both cars

        >That only works in the movies - you create a risky dependency on the abilities of the driver in question.

        The driver *in front* has to be reasonably competent...all the guy in the demon car has to do is not turn suddenly. You need a long straight for the 'docking manoeuvre' and you want -ideally- a heavy, powerful car for the 'brake'; but it requires no extraordinary level of driving...all you do is get as close to the front of the demon car as possible; then slowly ease back on the accelerator until the cars are touching. Then either brake gently; or maybe just easing off the accelerator will cause enough drag to bring the duo down to safer (ditchable) speeds. Pretty sure I could do it.

      2. Psyx

        Re: Why not....

        "That only works in the movies"

        Nah, works pretty well in real life, though it's safer to 'box' the car with three vehicles. However, that involves buggering up the paintwork of three police cars. I think running the Renault out of fuel was a safer and less costly alternative.

  16. moiety

    Couldn't he have just scrubbed speed off with the crash barrier? Also, they could have used a police car or two as a brake. Have these people no ingenuity?

    1. M Gale

      Crash barriers have a nasty habit of coming apart and sending high speed girders through the windscreen.

  17. MrXavia
    Facepalm

    Turn off the engine?

    Sure its dangerous, but you CAN turn the engine off..... even my car with keyless entry and push button start can have the engine turned off while driving... get on a straight piece of road first.. then coast to a stop...

    1. TeeCee Gold badge
      Meh

      Re: Turn off the engine?

      Prius owners? Do not try this at home.

      It will work, but turning it off also engages the parking pawl. You will get a long sizzling noise, followed by a grinding noise, then a clattering noise and finally be brought to a very sudden halt. The noises are the parking pawl attempting to destroy the teeth on the transmission's annulus gear. Fine in an emergency, but not something to be done for fun.

      Owners of regular automatic vehicles can create exactly the same effect by shifting into "Park" at speed. I found this out due to a momentary lapse in concentration, forgetting I was driving an auto and trying to downshift for a bend......

      1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

        Re: Turn off the engine?

        Oh crap - that's worse than me forgetting it was an automatic and trying to downshift by applying the clutch. Thankfully there was nobody behind me, and the teethmarks in the steering wheel were not permanent..

        Does it still work after such an impromptu attempt at attaining parking speed (i.e. 0 km/h)?

        1. wayne 8

          Re: Turn off the engine?

          My mother had a 1968 Dodge Dart automatic, I had a 1967 Dart manual. In my mother's car with my girl friend, seat belted as always, I take off from a traffic light and when I got to 30mph I pushed in the "clutch" to upshift with only a slight lift of throttle. Yee haw. The G force pushes my foot harder into the pedal. Luckily no one behind either.

          preferred icon - rapidly switching STOP/GO.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Happy

        Re: Turn off the engine?

        Automatic Transmissions:

        P is for PASS.

        R is for RACE.

  18. ZanzibarRastapopulous

    I had a similarly satanic Renault Laguna, but that wouldn't move at all.

  19. John Robson Silver badge
    WTF?

    Gears?

    Move gear selector to neutral - which in my renault can be done whilst coasting.

    In our old renault my wife (hen fiancee) managed to knock it into neutral at 70mph on the A1 - that was interesting (i.e. "oh, has the tranmission failed")

    I'm always sceptical of these stories - there are normally a good number of ways to at least limit the speed of these vehicles...

  20. Philippe
    Joke

    "I just wanted it to end," he said.

    That's what a lot of people think when visiting Belgium.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Happy

      Re: "I just wanted it to end," he said.

      You have a choice. Visit Charleroi, or crash into a ditch at 200km/h.

      Hmmmm...

  21. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    No neutral position? That's been available on every auto or manual transmission I've ever driven. I will admit to never having driven a vehicle with paddle shifters, so perhaps this feature is missing.

    A paddle shifting arrangement would seem to be a common adaption for a handicapped driver. Two buttons that could be relocated to any location suitable for that driver. So this raises another point: When adapting a vehicle for handicapped use, are various combinations of control inputs that might be needed in an emergency required to be implemented? What sorts of certifications are required to ensure that the combination of driver and adapted vehicle will be safe under normal and abnormal conditions?

    1. Corinne

      My current car has the audi gearbox with paddle shift. However it also has a typical standard automatic type gear shift which you put into drive then you can use the paddles to change gear or just leave it in fully automatic mode as you prefer - you can also "manually" change gear with the same lever by pushing it across then forwards or backwards. If you don't touch the paddles for a while (a couple of minutes I think, but never timed it) then it falls back into fully automatic mode until you use the paddles again.

      You need to have SOME form of neutral whatever method you use to change gear, and the paddles just let you move up & down through the gears at will with no manual selection available. Well none that I've found anyway as yet, but as I'm normally driving with a bit of vigour when I use the paddle shift I've not really tried to find neutral!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Gearbox

        The article mentions a clutch, so that would suggest that the vehicle was not an automatic.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is this where we find out the the meteor was in fact one of these satanic Renault Lagunas, with an old biddy behind the wheel?

  23. regadpellagru
    Thumb Down

    Human IT interface problem

    In France, everyone that has learnt car driving more than 15 years ago have done it with:

    - a manual gearbox (5 gears) + left clutch pedal

    - a key that mechanically turns to start/stop the engine

    - a mechanical steering wheel

    - a central brake pedal, based on piston + brake fluid

    - a mecanical manual handbrake lever

    - mechanical lights control

    Now, in a f***ing Renault, you have:

    - a card you insert (or not, can be proximity based) + button to start and maybe stop the engine. Is no longer mechanical, so f*ck knows what happens in the unlikely event you want to emergency stop, if at all possible.

    - a bizarre device, different in each and every model, implementing handbrake. Maybe.

    - SW controlled lights. What a great idea ! I've seen that having 1 second latency when activating it. Handy to put the full lights on/off when you encounter someone.

    - a power assisted brake pedal. Just touch it lightly and you'll stop the car at 100 KM/h in 30 meters.

    Given the amount of cheap ridiculous complexity, how is it a suprise that it fails every now and then and that people are not prepared to read 20 pages to learn the magic procedure to reset the hand brake/lights/cruise control/starter ???

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Human IT interface problem

      The modern Laguna (or pretty much any other car) still has all of the items on your list apart from the physical key and the hardware switch for the lights.

    2. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Human IT interface problem

      He's right about the brakes, though. I hired a Peugeot a couple of years ago, and it was a total bitch to drive, the brake was that twitchy.

  24. GitMeMyShootinIrons

    Does this mean...

    ... The Return of The Rise of The Machines?

    More stories of machine/user failures looking like evil acts by possessed technology always welcome!

  25. Lockwood

    I've been in a Merc Sprinter with runlock.

    That got into a possessed mode where I could not turn it off; I was able to select a gear, raise the handbrake and apply power with the keys in my pocket.

    Luckily, there was an isolator switch. Failing that, chucking it into 5th and trying to pull off should have stopped it quite nicely.

    As people have said, think outside the box to find ways to regain control.

  26. Jim 59

    ROTM

    At first I didn't believe this chump's story. Not sure now. My Nissan has keyless entry and the engine can supposedly be stopped with a long press on the start button. I hope. Are all these electronic aids removing our control in the last instance ? Even worse for people with automatics.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I didn't want to continue till I reached Holland

    Having spent some time working in Holland I can fully understand this. it's the one place I never, never ever want to go back to.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I had this argument with someone elsewhere. What if the holding the start button for ten seconds to reset the bios and turn it off thingy doesnt work because its gone mad. What if... the entire canbus is being flooded by packets from a dodgy module so none of the control messages are getting through. We've all seen weird bugs and some shocking bugs in our day to day work.

    Why can't we just have a big red E stop button on the dash that cuts 12v to the entire control computer circuitry. Mechanical, like you find on machine tools. The steering isnt legally allowed to be steer by wire (it can be electrically assisted now, but there always has to be a mechanical connection), brakes have to work with no power assistance. So. just a big red button. Power off mechanically. Job done.

    1. Psyx
      Alert

      "The steering isnt legally allowed to be steer by wire (it can be electrically assisted now, but there always has to be a mechanical connection), "

      Really?

      I'm not saying you're wrong, I'm just very surprised!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re:

        @AC: The CAN bus is not used for control signals.

        @Psyx: Yes, really.

        1. Psyx
          Stop

          Re: Re:

          "@Psyx: Yes, really."

          [citation required]

    2. Vic

      The steering isnt legally allowed to be steer by wire (it can be electrically assisted now, but there always has to be a mechanical connection)

      Strangely, that doesn't appear to be the case any more (it certainly used to bw).

      ECER79 Paragraph 5.3.3.2 gives the requirements for a failure of a "Full Power Steering System" :-

      In case of a failure within the control transmission, with the exception of those parts listed in Paragraph 5.1.4., it shall be possible to steer with the performance laid down in Paragraph 6. for the intact steering system

      Frankly, I don't see how you could conform to that without a mechanical linkage. But that's probably why I'm a code monkey...

      Vic.

      1. Psyx
        Thumb Up

        Thought as much, seeing as there are a few drive-by-wire projects out there.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      My understanding is that the start/stop override on modern cars is electrically separate from any bus system and operates in a more fundamental way to halt the vehicle - normally by removing electrical power from the fuel pump.

      The button on your dashboard closes two sets of contacts. One sends a signal to your car's 'normal' control system, the other set acts as described to override any computer craziness that might be going on. That feature will no doubt become handy when people start jail-breaking their Teslas to run their own software on it.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Meh

      What is WRONG with these fucking designers...

      Sure some techno smarts MAY be a good thing.....

      I remember the first car we ever got, that was Japanese....

      It was a little 4 cylinder, and it had a great innovation.

      A single, 2 knob, AM radio.....

      I pine for the lack of the techno trousers automobubbiles....

      All plastic and circuitry and microchips and shit that cannot be fixed....

      Carburettor, points and coil ignition....

  29. N2 Silver badge

    At least

    The French roads are good enough to do 200Km/hr.

  30. Felix Krull

    <i>Our source for the above is this report in the Courrier Picard, plus the linked radio interview. English-language reports say toll gates were raised to allow Lecerf to pass, and that he drove the car off the road when it ran out of petrol.</i>

    Aha! Trying to save money on toll AND parking.

  31. david 12 Bronze badge

    Power off...

    I'm holding down the power button right now and

  32. Chris 228

    I call B.S. !

    There is no way both the brakes and the ignition failed to stop the vehicle, in addition had he switched the trans into neutral the car would have coasted to a stop.

    Once again we see why people without proper driving skills should not be allowed to operate motorized vehicles, aka machinery. In the hands of unskilled operators - and they comprise 95% of vehicle operators on the roadways, an auto can be a lethal weapon. Get these incompetent people off the roadways before they kill more innocent people.

  33. dv
    WTF?

    One question though...

    What is wrong with going over the speed limit on a highway? Last time i checked, the speed of sound was considerably higher than that to allow the "thundering at 160 km/h" connotation. 200 km/h is nothing to sneer at in traffic, sure, but also very manageable in a modern car on a good highway. Which has been also noted in the article - the poor bloke managed to drive for quite a distance with no serious trouble (apart from sitting in a car from hell, going "over 9000" km/h, unable to stop or decelerate, just waiting to smash somewhere at high speed).

    1. Terry Barnes

      Re: One question though...

      The limit is set based on a number of factors but mainly the expected competence level of an average driver and an analysis of the speeds likely to be attained by slower vehicles.

      Speed limit planners will look to set a limit that most people can drive safely at most of the time, and will seek to limit big variances between vehicles - so no 200MPH limit for cars if lorries can barely manage 50 on big hills.

      I'm sure you know that there is no argument that says 'If you break the limit you will crash' - what happens is that as speeds increase the likelihood of crashes increases and the outcome of those crashes will be worse. Limits are also set to keep accidents at whatever a given society believes is the upper threshold of acceptable.

      It has to be that way, else you're trying to set a limit and enforce it based on the combination of driver and vehicle which would become 'time consuming' - it would also ignore the problem that other vehicles travelling faster puts pressure on drivers travelling more slowly and gives them less time to Observe, Assess, Plan and Act (the standard safe system of driving) and so the people having the crashes might not actually be the people driving quickly.

  34. Bamboozled
    FAIL

    Neutral?

    Does this lack of ignition off switch also disable the gear selector so you can't select neutral?

  35. Jedit
    Megaphone

    A Renault, you say?

    "Papa?"

    "NIICOOOOOOOOLLLLLLLLLEEEEEEEE!!!!!"

  36. FreeTard
    Stop

    Disability?

    I inherited my 92 year old granny's car, and she used to say it "flew away" on her when she drove it, meaning that it would suddenly accelerate when she was trying to brake.

    The first time I drove it I discovered her issue. She was a 92 year old woman.

  37. Simon Beckett
    Paris Hilton

    Re keyless start

    My neighbour has a Jag with keyless start which he parks very close to his house. Last week he managed to get in, start it, and drive 30 miles, at which point he remembered his keys in his jacket in the porch at home. Unfortunately not before he'd turned the engine off.

    Paris - because she rarely has trouble turning anything on.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Had the same problem on a mechanical car, with less dramatic results.

    The throttle got stuck, leaving the carburetor open. Steer to emergency lane, pop clutch, THEN kill engine to avoid it blowing up...

    ... and find the throttle cable starting to shave, and getting stuck on the fireproof wall. A bit of tape to hold the broken strings of the steel cable away from the non-washer passage (the washer had broken and fallen off in the first place, causing the cable to shave), and off I go buy a new throttle cable.

    This one, despite not being an electronic problem, and because of it, could be easily fixed.

    But I've seen rally drivers that had their throttle cables snapped, and the driver would yank the bonnet off the car, sit on the windshield, remnants of cable wrapped in hand, while the navigator would steer, brake, and clutch. It appears this french on the pic below wouldn't want to get rid of the bonnet, but he drove the throttle by hand anyway.

    http://blog.axisofoversteer.com/2008/11/determinationor-darwin.html

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