A California Highway Patrol officer helped bring a runaway Toyota Prius travelling 151 kilometres an hour to a safe stop on Monday after the car's accelerator became stuck on a San Diego County freeway.

Prius driver James Sikes called 911 at about 1:30 p.m., after he accelerated to pass another vehicle on Interstate 8 and found that he could not control his car, the CHP said.


James Sikes says he was passing another car on a California freeway when the accelerator pedal on his Toyota Prius got stuck. ((CBC))

"I pushed the gas pedal to pass a car and it did something kind of funny ... it jumped and it just stuck there," the 61-year-old driver said at a news conference.

"As it was going, I was trying the brakes ... it wasn't stopping, it wasn't doing anything and it just kept speeding up," Sikes said, adding he was pressing the pedal so hard that he could smell the brakes burning.

A patrol car pulled alongside the Prius and officers told Sikes over a loudspeaker to push the brake pedal to the floor and apply the emergency brake.

"They also got it going on a steep upgrade," said officer Jesse Udovich. "Between those three things, they got it to slow down."

After the car decelerated to about 80 kilometres an hour, Sikes turned off the engine and coasted to a halt.

The officer then manoeuvered his car in front of the Prius as a precautionary block, Udovich said.

Toyota to investigate

Sikes said he took the vehicle in to an El Cajon dealership for repairs two weeks ago after receiving a recall notice, but was turned away.

"I gave them my recall notice and they handed it back and said I'm not on the recall list," Sikes said.

In a statement, Toyota said it has dispatched a field technical specialist to San Diego to investigate the incident.

Toyota has recalled some 8.5 million vehicles worldwide since last fall because of acceleration problems in multiple models and braking issues in the Prius.

Toyota owners have complained of their vehicles speeding out of control despite efforts to slow down, sometimes resulting in deadly crashes. The government has received complaints of 34 deaths linked to sudden acceleration of Toyota vehicles since 2000.