Federal safety regulators are giving Toyota some much-needed good news, though they aren’t completely absolving the troubled Japanese maker in an ongoing safety scandal.
With Toyota facing a rash of lawsuits for its various safety problems – legal problems some analysts estimate could cost the maker more than $2 billion to resolve – there’s significant good news for the Japanese company in the finding by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that it could not find any sign of electronic glitches that might cause Toyota vehicles to unexpectedly race out of control.
In fact, after reviewing the vehicle data recorders taken from scores of Toyota products involved in unintended acceleration incidents, NHTSA found that the brakes were not applied in 35 of 58 cases. That finding, supported by black box data, suggests that driver error, rather than mechanical problems, were responsible. This should not be surprising to anyone who has followed the history of such charges.
The additional incidents, however, appear to be the result of mechanical – but not electronic defects. Toyota has so far recalled more than 8 million cars, trucks and crossovers to resolve problems that could cause a vehicle’s accelerator to stick, including faulty accelerators and loose carpets that could jam under the accelerator pedal.