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Transpo Sec. LaHood Calls Toyota “Safety Deaf”

Regulators now looking at possible electronic control problems, despite Toyota’s denials.

by on Feb.02, 2010

Toyota is "safety deaf," proclaims Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

(This story has been revised since it was first posted to reflect revisions in wire copy quoting Sec. of Transportation Ray LaHood.)

Even as Toyota struggles to get underway with the repairs to millions of vehicles with potentially sticky accelerators, Washington is taking aim at the embattled automaker, the Secretary of Transportation suggesting the maker is “safety deaf,” while federal regulators begin looking at the possibility electronic control systems on Toyota vehicles could be another cause of “unintended acceleration.”

On Monday, Toyota formally provided details of its repair plans for the latest in a series of safety recalls, announcing that it would begin fixing owners’ sticky accelerators later this week.  The automaker also insisted that safety is its number one priority, that it had acted quickly and reasnably, and that it was confident it had identified all the problems with its vehicles.

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But in an interview with the Associated Press, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood had sharp words for Toyota, suggesting that it took longer than necessary to get the automaker to respond to mounting reports of problems with so-called “unintended acceleration,” an issue that also prompted the recall of 3.8 million vehicle for “carpet entrapment,” last October.