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Is Toyota Getting A Bum Rap On Sudden Acceleration?

Preliminary research by federal regulators points to driver error, not defects in most cases.

by on Jul.14, 2010

Preliminary DoT studies of Toyota "black boxes" suggest many, if not most, sudden acceleration accidents could be the result of driver error.

Has Toyota gotten a bum rap on sudden acceleration?

Since last October, Toyota has recalled more than millions of vehicles in the U.S. alone.  While the problems cover a vast array of issues, from excessive corrosion to faulty stability control systems, the vast majority are involved in a pair of recalls designed to fix problems that could cause Toyota vehicles to suddenly race out of control against the driver’s will.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has received hundreds of complaints and the issue, involving Toyota products, has been linked to scores of deaths, hundreds of injuries and even more accidents.  Concerns about the issue – and allegations of a cover-up by senior Toyota executives – led to contentious hearings on Capitol Hill, last February, as well as a record $16.4 million fine levied by the Department of Transportation against Toyota.

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Yet DoT researchers may wind up being the best friend Toyota has right now.  They have so far analyzed dozens of data recorders, the so-called “black boxes” – taken from Toyota vehicles involved in apparent sudden acceleration crashes.  Though NHTSA won’t officially comment, the Wall Street Journal claims its sources reveal that preliminary results show the vast majority of the incidents were caused by driver error, not by vehicle defects.

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