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New Prius Drawing Safety Complaints

The newest version of Toyota's Prius hybrid has already racked up at least 140 consumer complaints to U.S. safety officials about braking and sudden acceleration, more than three times the 42 complaints about all flaws in the 2009 version. The 2010 Prius was an all-new design.

Most complaints allege the Prius accelerated after traveling over a bump or pothole and didn't immediately respond to the brake pedal, according to a review of federal data by the Detroit Free Press. The complaints link the problem to two injuries and two crashes.

One owner from suburban Detroit told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that they could reproduce a "lurching" in their Prius every time they hit a certain pothole.

"This has almost resulted in the Prius striking the car in front of it. It makes it impossible to safely judge your braking distance in order to come to a safe stop, because you never know when this phenomenon will occur," the owner reported.

NHTSA does not release the identity of people who file vehicle complaints.

The Prius is not covered by a Toyota recall of 2.3 million vehicles to fix sticking accelerator pedals.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Wednesday that federal regulators would look into the complaints. NHTSA has not yet opened a formal investigation. Toyota says it has received 77 complaints in Japan.

Both 2010 and 2009 hybrids employ regenerative braking, which uses the motion of the car to recharge its batteries while braking.

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