A terrified 22-year-old driver thought he was going to die when a jammed cruise control trapped him in his four-wheel drive for half an hour as it raced along the Eastern Freeway.
In a scene reminiscent of thriller blockbuster Speed, the Ford Explorer’s cruise control got stuck as he attempted to take the Burke Road exit in Melbourne’s north-east about 12.40pm.
‘‘The person I spoke to at Ford service said the key wasn’t moving because it was driving in the wrong gear,’’ he told 3AW.
‘‘At first he said ‘don’t drive the car because it’s dangerous’ and I said ‘well, that’s kind of the problem - I’m actually in the car and I cannot stop it’.’’
As the traffic got heavier, Chase hung up and called Triple-O, where a police sergeant helped calm the scared motorist calm as the Ford sped along the freeway.
‘‘She asked me to again try turning the ignition off, put the car in neutral, put your whole body weight on the footbrake,’’ Chase told 3AW.
‘‘When I did that the car slowed to 80km/h but then the footbrake just became stiff, it wouldn’t go any further. So it was like I had no brakes,’’ he said.
‘‘The police sergeant told me to straight away put my hazards on and stay in the emergency lane.
‘‘It was a bit scary because every now and then you’d come up to someone sitting in the emergency lane talking on their mobile.’’
Police arrived quickly, with two cars under sirens and lights driving ahead of the tearaway four-wheel-drive to clear traffic.
‘‘Pretty much that’s all they could do until I reached Frankston and that’s just when I saw three or four lanes of traffic that wasn’t moving very fast and I’m doing 100 and I just said to her 'I’m going to die'.
‘‘And I just put all my weight on that footbrake, swerved on the wrong side of the road to avoid running into the back of everyone including other police cars, went over the concrete road island, bounced a bit.’’
Chase also pulled on the handbrake, bringing the car to a halt outside the Monash University Peninsula campus - and just half a metre away from a head-on collision.
The 22-year-old, who is now recovering in Frankston Hospital, said he suffered some whiplash, and shock.
Police have taken the Ford for inspection.
‘‘Which I’m fine with,’’ the driver laughed.
Ford Australia public relations manager Sinead McAlary said Ford had not experienced anything like this before.
‘‘We will be making contact with the driver as soon as possible to learn more about what took place and then get access to his vehicle to investigate the matter further," she said.
I remember many, many years ago the first day I drove in driver's ed (I had driven with my mum prior to this, but had to take the official course to be allowed to take my driving test) and I was approaching a green traffic light. Apparently I was a bit hesitant because he said "just drive right through it." I said, "but what if it's malfunctioned or been sabotaged and it's green on all sides."
He just gave me one of these
I decided then it was probably best not to mention things like that in the future, but doesn't anyone else think of that kind of stuff? Doesn't anyone else think "I wonder if the light for the crossing traffic is really
red right now" as they are driving towards a green light?