Man forced to drive backward on highway after steering wheel locks

Published: May. 5, 2021 at 10:55 PM CDT
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TACOMA, Wash. (KIRO) - A Washington state man who drove backward down a stretch of highway at 45 miles per hour says he was trying to save his life after his car experienced a mechanical malfunction.

Nathaniel Grayson can laugh about the incident that found him driving backward on a Washington state highway, but he says at the time, it was harrowing.

“Turns out my car has this thing where the steering wheel locks up,” Grayson said. “My life was, like, in danger, so I was driving as if I was driving with my life on the line.”

Grayson says the power steering on his Chevrolet Malibu “locked up” while he was driving on the highway. He reacted by slamming on the brakes, which caused him to spin out and hit a concrete barrier.

After somehow missing all the cars headed at him, Grayson’s car was now rolling backwards with the steering working, so he just kept going. He figured the reverse trip would only last a minute.

“I see the exit sign, and I was like, ‘You know what? I can probably make it to the exit,’” he said. “Time just slowed down, and I felt like I was in ‘The Matrix,’ like I can do this.”

Grayson’s trip to the exit, where he safely left the highway, was filmed by another driver, who let his friend post it on Facebook. The video got the attention of Washington State Trooper Robert Reyer, who called the incident “unbelievable.”

Many online believed the incident was just a stunt. Grayson says he read all those comments, but what actually happened was a small miracle.

“Really, I was just trying to save my life and make sure nobody else got injured,” he said.

Grayson’s car sustained front-end damage from his collision with the barrier.

Power steering failure, leading to a sudden loss of control, is a problem that owners of early 2000s-era Chevy Malibus have been reporting online for years. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigated, and General Motors issued a recall for more than 1.3 million vehicles in 2014.

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