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  (Source: Sting Ray Studios)

Toyota has recalled millions of vehicles, including the best-selling Camry for unintended acceleration problems. Toyota has now received a massive fine for trying to deceive U.S. federal regulators.  (Source: Torque Report)
Fine is largest in U.S. history against an automaker

The atmosphere at the U.S. Department of Transportation on Monday was tense as Secretary Ray LaHood slammed Japanese automaker Toyota.  Lahood announced, "We now have proof that Toyota failed to live up to its legal obligationsWorse yet, they knowingly hid a dangerous defect for months from U.S. officials and did not take action to protect millions of drivers and their families."

Defects are an automaker's eternal enemy.  Every year thousands, if not millions of vehicles are recalled for defects.  Toyota's critical problem was not so much the defects itself -- despite the massive number of vehicles involved.  Rather, Toyota's key mistake was the dangerous game of deception it reportedly played.

According to documents obtained from Toyota, the company began a recall on "sticky pedals" in September of last year in Canada and Europe.  However, it failed to inform U.S. regulators of the problem, and made no effort to launch a recall of the effected vehicles until it came under heavy fire in January.

That constitutes a gross violation of federal safety guidelines, which demand that an automaker inform the U.S. federal regulators within five days of discovering a defect.

As a result, the DOT has thrown the book at Toyota, proposing a $16.4M USD, the maximum penalty allowed under the law.  That fine far surpasses the biggest previous fine against an automaker -- $1M USD sum levied against General Motors for failing to promptly recall windshield wipers in 2002-2003 model vehicles.

Toyota has two weeks decide its response.  Despite the reportedly conclusive evidence, the Asian automaker is expected to appeal the decision, perhaps seeking a smaller fine.

Meanwhile, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) continues to investigate the sticky accelerators, unsatisfied with Toyota's claim that floor mats were solely to blame.  NHTSA is looking at a host of mechanical and electrical elements for bugs, and is even examining whether cosmic rays could play a role, with the help of experts from NASA.

The government continues to investigate Toyota's behavior during the recall, as well.  DOT officials said more fines could brought against Toyota if further proof of wrongdoing is revealed.

While the defect mess is unpleasant for all those involved it does raise some interesting questions about governance.  Some say that the government should not police companies, and that the commercial press should be left to investigate reports of defects and inform consumers of safety risk.  Others argue the current system is a successful one.  And still others argue that current regulation does not go far enough -- that the federal government should have the ability to levy even bigger fines against companies who knowingly make products that could endanger U.S. consumers.

Likewise, the 135 pending lawsuits against Toyota raise similar questions.  Some argue that allowing such free litigation against safety critical businesses, such as automakers and healthcare providers allows citizens to take regulation into their own hands.  Others argue that it hinders free enterprise, raising prices, and worse yet leads to bigger government.

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RE: Still Confused
By The Raven on 4/7/2010 5:24:37 PM , Rating: 1
What candidate are you talking about? And FYI Rush isn't a reporter for Fox news. Hell, he isn't even a reporter. He is a commentator/talk show host. And if you he doesn't have a free podcast at this point, I'm not listening to him.

You know what I would be scared of is a world with an unchecked liberal media?

Was it Fox that implied the Tea Party Patriots were racists? (Or that anyone that was against the health care bill for that matter) No it was NBC, CNN, and others. They took a tiny bit of bigotry and painted the whole crowd of people who want fiscal responsibility in DC with the same brush. Yeah there is no bias there. None at all. I guess if it makes you feel better.

And again, I don't like Fox more than the others. I just am saying that you can't blow off Fox and simultaniously believe you are getting the true story from the others because you assume they aren't biased. If you do that, you may as well just restrict yourself to watching another biased outlet: like Fox.

Yeah and all those people who think that you should get what you work for. Yeah they are sheeple. Not like those people who get their 'Obama money' and free health care. It must have been a tough decision for those people to decide to vote for Obama since things would be harder...I mean easier for them under his presidency.

I say the real sheeple are those that rely on the democrats or the republicans as we can all see now that both parties have been taking us all for a ride for quite sometime.

From your comment, I take it you are equating republicans to conservatives and democrats to liberals though neither are mutually exclusive.

The city where I work is largely democrat. They have always been democrats and they have been democrats since before the civil war when the democrats were the "Racist party" They never changed their ways. Was this before or after Copernicus? Was it dogma that these democrats followed believing that blacks were inferior? Yes it was. Or you can take a democratic dogma pill and tell yourself that the democrats were never like that. It is scary how much like religion that politics can be. It is not coincidence that people made fun of how Obama was treated like a god during the election.

I just realized that you are the same guy that thinks Ray LaHood is infallible and right on with his call to rape Toyota.

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