Yes, Even Prius Drivers Can Be Utter Idiots At The Wheel

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Wrecked Toyota Prius owned by Elizabeth James, photo by Ted James, from Houston Press

Wrecked Toyota Prius owned by Elizabeth James, photo by Ted James, from Houston Press

We spend a fair amount of time here defending Toyota Prius drivers, who seem to have a bad reputation for slow and inept driving.

We point out that gentle acceleration gets you there almost as quick and saves you money, despite the angry SUV driver 18 inches off the rear bumper.

But then something happens that makes us think perhaps the reputation is deserved.

In this case, a 19-year-old Toyota Prius driver hit two motorcyclists while attempting to shoot cell-phone video of a group of bikers out for an 8 am ride yesterday morning.

The incident, which took place on Highway 101 on the San Francisco Bay peninsula, ended with both bikers being taken to the hospital.

The Prius driver ended up in the hospital, too--after he was beaten by the rest of the bikers.

California Highway Patrol investigators hope to find witnesses to the event, which CHP officer Art Montiel said will produce a citation for distracted driving for the unnamed Prius driver.

According to the story in SF Gate, the bikers were riding in the fast lane and the Prius was in the center lane of northbound Highway 101 in Hillsdale, a few miles south of San Francisco Airport.

The distracted driver veered into the slow lane, overcorrected, swung into the fast lane, hit one biker, bounced his Prius off the 4-foot-tall central divider, hit a second biker, and then came to a stop.

The beating followed.

The moral(s) of the story:

  • Use extreme caution driving around groups of motorcyclists.
  • Do not attempt to shoot video of anything while driving.
  • Do not hold mobile devices while driving.
  • Learn how to react to an emergency situation behind the wheel.



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Comments (15)
  1. Ya know, this probably has more to do with the driver being 19 than the fact that he was in a Prius.

    Can't help believe that rather than Voelcker "spend(ing) a fair amount of time here defending Toyota Prius drivers," he is rather doing the opposite here.

    I wonder if the "slow and inept" characterization was linked with women, foreigners, or gays, how much hate mail Voelcker would get. But somehow he seems perfectly happy to level it against Prius drivers.

    Well, Prius drivers, here is your chance to give him some feedback, or not.

  2. This is also about cell phone use behind the wheel.

  3. I'm a slow and inept Volt driver and I'm gay too, so I'm completely screwed. I commute with Prius drivers who think that their Prius will magically get them awesome green gas mileage even when whizzing and zigging past the rest of us slow and inept drivers on the freeway in SoCal. So not all of them are driving slow(er than me).

  4. I am always surprised by Prius drivers who drive in a very fuel efficient manor. I think there are some Prius owners that really don't "get it." This is the reason that it is difficult to stereotype.

  5. C'mon... tThis really isn't JUST about Prius drivers, but DISTRACTED drivers--AND YOUNG distracted drivers, in particular!!!--in general!!

    Let's face it... If you're doing the speed limit in the MIDDLE lane, paying attention to the road AND giving "fast movers" the left lane to pass you... I've got no beef.

    Whip out a cell phone and so something stupid like talk, text or "shoot video"... THEN, we got a problem!!!

    Five words: Put. It. Down. And. DRIVE!!!!

  6. Well, most Prius drivers are "slow and inept"...

    I live in the Bay Area and Prius is very popular here. Just about every street has at least one parked on the driveway. But that is also the problem. EVERY time, I merge on th hwy, I will get a slow Prius driver who try to merge at 45mph and holding up about 5-6 cars behind Prius... That is UNSAFE!

  7. (Well, most Prius drivers are "slow and inept"...)
    I hardly think your local experience justifies a general and all encompassing statement like that. Maybe "some" Prius drivers or "some" older drivers or "some" inexperienced drivers but not most!

  8. Well, I could make similar inflammatory comments about certain "luxury sport" brand car drivers.

    However, I don't think this is very helpful and like most stereotypes, may have a loose connection to reality.

  9. You probably think everyone on the road has the same good health you do; all have just as good vision, just as good reactions, etc. NOT TRUE. If the guy in front of me is going slow, maybe he KNOWS his vision, age or medications are affecting his abilities, but he's OK and a safe driver as long as he slows down. You, thinking that going a few MPH faster or getting around this one car will actually get you to work on time since you screwed up and left late, are too damned impatient. Who's the dummy here? He is quite properly adjusting his driving to be SAFE. The road isn't an amusement park ride must most people sure seem to think so.

  10. Well said sir. We need to think about other people's life situation and be more patient with them. I think we are ruder as drivers than we are when we are out of our cars.

  11. Around my area of Philadelphia, I routinely get passed by a Prius here or there going 70-80mph in their Prius and me going 60-65mph. On highways of 55mph speed limits.

  12. Excess speed is clearly a big problem for Americans.

  13. Speed limit? What's that? We don't seem to have them in Wisconsin.

  14. As a Prius driver and a motorcyclist I would chalk this up to a 19 year old, inexperienced, driver. I've been tailgated on my bike and used to get quite a case of road rage. Now I just get out of the idiot's way.
    The Prius was not the problem just the vehicle.

  15. As a 600 mile a week commuter I have long noticed Prius drivers in the fast lane at 65 mph. I have also notice Prius drivers failing to understand the process of merging.

    Buying a Prius requires that you give up on decent handling, only a bad driver would be willing to do that. I have driven a Taurus and a Prius back to back, the Taurus is VASTLY better handling... and that is a sad commentary.

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