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Driver error cited as cause of fatal crashes in 74 of 75 cases

Toyota, once lavished with praise for its reputation for quality and reliability, took more than a few blows to the chin earlier this year due to concerns of sudden acceleration. The company began recalling many of its popular models – including the Camry, Tundra, Corolla, Highlander, and RAV4 – to replace “sticky” gas pedals.

However, after examining data from 75 fatal crashes which were blamed on “sudden acceleration” due to faulty electronics, the National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has come to the conclusion that only one incident was not related to driver error. The incident in question is the high profile crash involving a CHP officer driving a 2009 Lexus ES 350. The vehicle accelerated uncontrollably due to improperly installed floor mats which trapped the accelerator pedal. The crash resulted in the death of four people including the officer.

The NHTSA concluded that the other 74 crashes were a result of driver error -- specifically, drivers were mistaking the accelerator pedal for the brake pedal, according to the Wall Street Journal.

"In spite of our investigations, we have not actually been able yet to find a defect" with Toyota's electronic throttle control said NHTSA associate administrator for enforcement, Daniel Smith.

"We're bound and determined that if it exists we're going to find it. But as yet, we haven't found it."

The NHTSA hasn't completely cleared Toyota, however. The agency still notes that improperly designed floor mats and sticky accelerators that were slow to return to the idle were to blame for some crashes. Toyota itself acknowledged these finding back in January. However, phantom electronic gremlins causing Toyota vehicles to suddenly lose their minds appears to have been tossed out of the equation.

The sudden acceleration drama resulted in the U.S. Department of Transportation fining Toyota $16.4 million for deceiving officials about the widespread nature of stick accelerator pedals. There are also over 100 pending lawsuits against Toyota regarding sudden acceleration.

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Nice try
By AstroGuardian on 7/13/2010 5:11:49 PM , Rating: -1
Nice try in regaining the lost image Toyota. We just wait and see how the masses react to this...

RE: Nice try
By Smartless on 7/13/2010 5:25:43 PM , Rating: 5
Umm I think the better question is whether or not that fine was deserved. Yes floor mats are bad, but I think some other recalls were much worse, like Nissan Armadas locking steering at high speeds. Will our government go, well you still hid information in which case, what were they hiding if they honestly didn't think there was a problem? Cause we all know we're not going to give them back the money. So what happens now? This thing reeks of scape goats and conspiracy theories.

RE: Nice try
By Stoanhart on 7/13/2010 5:27:30 PM , Rating: 5
Huh? Toyota didn't "try" anything - this is a NHTSA study. Personally, all this nonsense hasn't affected my image of Toyota at all. If I was looking to buy a car, I would definitely consider Toyota.

RE: Nice try
By Gungel on 7/14/2010 8:05:42 AM , Rating: 3
Despite of this good news Toyota's quality is slipping every year. Compare the latest quality studies and recalls with other manufacturers and Toyota is just about average. Now add to that a very boring driving experience and even more boring design and you see why the latest sales numbers are down.

RE: Nice try
By gmyx on 7/14/2010 8:11:47 AM , Rating: 2
Exactly, I had an argument with a co-worker on this. Toyota at the moment is the most scrutinized, so any problems will be found and fixed. If I were in the market for a new car, Toyota would be my #1 choice because of this.

"A politician stumbles over himself... Then they pick it out. They edit it. He runs the clip, and then he makes a funny face, and the whole audience has a Pavlovian response." -- Joe Scarborough on John Stewart over Jim Cramer

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