With gas prices hovering near record highs in the San Francisco Bay area, hybrid vehicles are in high demand. This is especially true of the Toyota Prius, which is arguably the most popular hybrid on California roads today. Prius owners boast of needing to fill up only every few weeks, since an electric motor saves gas when idling or travelling at low speeds.
Even with the popular fuel efficiency, Prius owners are reporting unusual safety issues. Specifically, they report that the car’s windshield can distort traffic lights (as well as lights from oncoming vehicles) at night. These lights can appear blurry or larger than normal. In some instances, drivers can have double vision when looking through Prius’ windshield.
Prius owners have made their concerns known through an online forum called PriusChat. More than 40 owners have acknowledged the problem that they call a “ghosting” effect. Essentially, when travelling down dark roads, multiple images for far away lights can be seen. As the objects get closer, the images merge into one true image. However, the danger of seeing blurry, inaccurate images (especially at night) could be dangerous.
Since January 2012, the National Highway Traffic Safety Adminstration (NHTSA) has received at least 12 complaints regarding ghosting effects with Prius’ windshields. However, it reportedly has not found any specific safety defects that warrants action. Likewise, Toyota acknowledged that it knows about customers’ complaints and has pledged to evaluate the vehicles to see what could be done.
At this time, no recall has been scheduled to address the ghosting issue. Also, no accidents or injuries have been attributed to the windshield issue.
Source: ABC 7 News.com, Potential safety hazard in popular car, February 27, 2013