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Posts Tagged ‘runaway toyotas’

Study Points Finger at Driver Error for Toyota’s Unintended Acceleration Problems

But 2-year review also suggests electronic issues may have played role.

by on Jan.18, 2012

Toyota's unintended acceleration problems likely weren't the result of electronic gremlins, says a new study.

A two-year study looking for possible causes behind Toyota’s rash of unintended acceleration issues has put primary blame on driver error – but the review by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) also cautioned that some problems may have been caused by inadvertent interactions involving vehicle electronics – an issue frequently cited by the automaker’s critics.

Though there was no hard evidence of specific electronic defects, the 139-page report cautioned that “the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence.”  Warning electronic faults may be “untraceable,” it calls for stricter government involvement in setting standards for the use of electronic control vehicle systems.

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The new report completes a series of studies set in motion by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration which, in March 2010, asked both the NAS’s National Research Council, as well as NASA, to see why there were so many complaints about what the media was referring to as “runaway Toyotas.”


Toyota Pays $10 Million In Runaway Lexus Case

Dealership still to settle.

by on Dec.24, 2010

Toyota pays $10 million to settle the first big sudden acceleration lawsuit.

That incident led to the first of the maker’s big recalls for so-called sudden acceleration which, in turn, has led to hundreds of lawsuits and a series of record fines for the humbled Japanese automaker.

The August 2009 accident apparently occurred when the floor mat of a Lexus sedan driven by California Highway Patrol Officer Mark Saylor jammed the accelerator pedal.  The vehicle quickly raced out of control, reaching speeds as high as 120 mph before slamming into an SUV, careening off the road, down an embankment and then repeatedly rolling over before bursting into flames.  Saylor, 45, was killed along with three members of his family.

Shortly afterwards, Toyota announced it would agree to recall millions of vehicles prone to having their floor mats jam under the accelerator pedal.  The following January, the maker also agreed to recall millions more vehicles with potentially sticky accelerator pedals.  But it has since been fined heavily for delaying those and various other safety-related recalls.  (For more, Click Here.)

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The payment with Saylor’s family was originally supposed to be kept secret – as often happens with out-of-court settlements – but was released to the Los Angeles Times by Larry Willis, a lawyer in Orange County, California, who is representing the dealership that loaned the Lexus to the police officer.

The dealership was also sued by the family but has yet to reach a settlement.


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.


Toyota Will Contact Customers Reporting Vehicle Runaways

Maker will reach out in any sudden acceleration claim within 24 hours.

by on Apr.09, 2010

Have a sticky accelerator or some other problem with a "runaway Toyota"? The maker's new SMART team will be in touch, it claims, within 24 hours.

As many as 200 Toyota engineers have been put on call and will be poised to respond to any customer reporting a problem with a runaway car, the maker says.

Any report of sudden acceleration will be dealt with in less than 24 hours by the new Swift Market Analysis Response Team, or SMART, according to Toyota, with engineers dispatched to examine the vehicle to see what might have caused the problem.  It’s the latest step by the Japanese maker, which is struggling to understand why so many owners have reported runaway vehicles, some even after their cars, trucks and crossovers have been reparied in accordance with two Toyota recalls.

“There has been a great deal of confusion, speculation and misinformation about unintended acceleration in the past several weeks,” declared Steve St. Angelo, who was recently named Toyota’s North American quality czar. “We believe judgments should be based on reliable evidence, and our SMART business process is there to help provide information upon which such judgments can be made.”

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In a release, St. Angelo pointed to two recent cases, one in San Diego, the other in upstate New York, in which it appears the Toyota vehicles likely weren’t at fault.  There is some evidence to suggest the California case was either a hoax or driver error, while the East Coast incident was likely the result of a driver confusing the brake and accelerator pedals.