Print 70 comment(s) - last by kmmatney.. on Jul 19 at 1:15 PM

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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What I don't get is...
By bravacentauri83 on 7/13/2010 5:14:32 PM , Rating: 4
I had a 2007 Camry. I had the floor mats that were first recalled (yes, the Toyota branded ones). I looked at them and saw there was plenty of gap between the floor and the mat itself. I still wonder how people managed to get the pedal stuck on the mat. Maybe they had a huge lead foot or something...

RE: What I don't get is...
By SunAngel on 7/13/10, Rating: -1
RE: What I don't get is...
By Aikouka on 7/13/2010 5:41:32 PM , Rating: 3
The (DT) article specifically states "improperly installed floor mats", so I'm assuming they mean that the floor mats were not secured properly. If not secured, it isn't difficult to gradually push a floor mat upward toward the pedals.

RE: What I don't get is...
By bravacentauri83 on 7/13/2010 5:47:57 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry, forgot to mention this in my original post.

I found it kind of hard to "improperly install" the floormats. There are two hooks that go on the part of the floormat nearest the driver. The mats don't really move forward (into the pedals) that easy.

I guess we do have morons that don't know how to push down on the clips with some force to make sure they stay so the mats are positioned right.

RE: What I don't get is...
By Brandon Hill on 7/13/2010 5:52:58 PM , Rating: 4
If I recall correctly, the officer was given a loaner Lexus ES 350 while his vehicle was being serviced. Someone at the Lexus dealership had installed all-weather floor mats from a completely different vehicle into the vehicle so they didn't fit properly. That is what caused the problem.

RE: What I don't get is...
By dragonbif on 7/13/2010 6:25:53 PM , Rating: 3
Not all all-weather floor mats have holes in them for the hooks. Some people even take out the hooks.

RE: What I don't get is...
By Mojo the Monkey on 7/16/2010 2:03:12 PM , Rating: 2
If you're talking about the 911 call incident with the police officer, I still dont believe that floormats did that. With enough time and wherewithal to be making calls and going that long, you're going to have tried pulling the gas pedal up with your the tip of your foot.

RE: What I don't get is...
By moriz on 7/13/2010 5:54:42 PM , Rating: 3
the floormats on my dad's '03 camary do not have hooks; they stay in place via rubber "spikes" on the bottom that digs into the carpet. it is by no means completely stable and does tend to slide forward.

that being said, the ones in my dad's car are not capable of ever trapping the pedels, since they do not have large bumps on them.

RE: What I don't get is...
By kmmatney on 7/19/2010 12:50:03 PM , Rating: 2
My 1999 Camry (original owner, 93K miles) has a hook for the floor mat...

RE: What I don't get is...
By AssBall on 7/13/2010 5:57:26 PM , Rating: 2
In the recall notice I received it specifically addressed the securing hooks. The same morons ignored the notices too, which came before all the media went crazy with the stories.

RE: What I don't get is...
By Flunk on 7/14/2010 9:06:45 AM , Rating: 3
My 2010 Mazda 3 has these hooks as well. I think most car manufacturers are doing this now, they're afraid of being sued by stupid people who don't pay attention to where the mats are. Now it's mostly foolproof.*

*Some people will still remove the hooks, but then again some people die from arsenic poisoning from drinking cleaners.

RE: What I don't get is...
By chmilz on 7/13/2010 5:50:20 PM , Rating: 5
Exactly. I briefly owned an RX7 and put in off-the-shelf floormats. Later I noticed they had a tendency to ride up and mess with the accelerator, once causing the pedal to stick while city driving. Was scary until I threw it into neutral and shut it off. Floormats were disposed of immediately.

RE: What I don't get is...
By priusone on 7/14/10, Rating: -1
RE: What I don't get is...
By gamerk2 on 7/14/2010 7:59:42 AM , Rating: 2
Sure, you'll probably blow the engine (depending on how much acceleration), but it WILL stop the acceleration of the car.

RE: What I don't get is...
By Flunk on 7/14/2010 9:09:24 AM , Rating: 3
Only if you're a complete idiot. You put it into neutral and hit the brake. Steer to the side and pull the key. Do it all fairly quickly and you're totally fine.

Besides almost all cars have rev limiters now, especially new ones.

RE: What I don't get is...
By funkyd99 on 7/14/2010 11:08:56 AM , Rating: 2
you'll probably blow the engine shifting into neutral with a stuck accelerator? Ever hear of a "rev limiter"?

RE: What I don't get is...
By hpram99 on 7/15/2010 2:16:47 PM , Rating: 2
This is entirely incorrect and ignorant. Almost every car on the road has rev-limiters to prevent the engine from going into potentially damaging territory. The only potential issues is if you let it bounce on the limit until it overheats (which can take quite a while)

Drivers that lost control are because of their own ignorance, here are 3 solutions:
1. Put car in neutral
2. Turn ignition to "Accessory" to stop engine but retain steering.
3. Don't feather the brakes until they overheat. Hit the breaks HEAVILY to quickly stop before they get too hot.

All of this can be done within a split second. These people should have their licenses revoked until they gain a little knowledge about the 4000lb piece of machinery they barrel down the road in at 60mph.

RE: What I don't get is...
By moriz on 7/13/2010 5:48:18 PM , Rating: 3
the thing that i don't get is, how the hell can people ever mix up the two pedals. they are spaced out far enough that you'd have to rotate your feet to press them individually, unless your feet are ginormous.

or, am i the only one who follows the "foot-on-brake-when-not-on-accelerator" rule?

RE: What I don't get is...
By ajdavis on 7/13/2010 6:17:53 PM , Rating: 4
I don't know where this rule comes from but it seems contrary to proper driving. I hope what you mean is that when you're coasting and think you'll need to either accelerate/brake your foot is over the pedal. People who drive by always stepping on a pedal are doing a disservice to their vehicle and their fellow drivers.

RE: What I don't get is...
By Mr772 on 7/13/2010 8:09:05 PM , Rating: 2
I think they mean that you only press petals with one foot. Not one foot on each petal.

RE: What I don't get is...
By moriz on 7/14/2010 10:50:05 AM , Rating: 2
you are correct. i should've said "over" brake pedal instead of "on" brake pedal. i don't press down on the brake while coasting, obviously.

RE: What I don't get is...
By walk2k on 7/13/2010 6:45:01 PM , Rating: 1
It happens more often than you might think. In an emergency, people panic, when they panic they do funny things. Very easy to press the wrong pedal in that situation, even for half a second, and that's all it takes to turn a near-miss into a horrible mashup.

RE: What I don't get is...
By Danish1 on 7/14/10, Rating: -1
RE: What I don't get is...
By Danish1 on 7/14/10, Rating: 0
RE: What I don't get is...
By kmmatney on 7/19/2010 12:54:46 PM , Rating: 1
Well, you'll probably get downrated, but I agree somewhat. It is usueful to learn to drive with a manual transmission, and there are way too many distracted drivers on the roads in the US these days.

RE: What I don't get is...
By Nutzo on 7/13/2010 7:02:05 PM , Rating: 2
The problem is that cars are SO reliable nowdays, that it's very rare for an accident to be caused by a mechanical failer. I had an Explorer years ago during all the rollovers. I even had the same recalled Firestone tires on it.
Twice I got flats in a rear tire, while driving on the freeway, and I had no problem controlling the car & pulling to the side, even with a complete flat.

One of the Explorers that rolled over and resulted in a lawsuit, was over loaded, with stuff piled on the top of the luggage rack It had 4 mismatched tires, that where re-treads, and they where driving 80+ when the tire blowout happend. How was that ford's fault? Truck tires are usually rated to only 85 MPH under normal loads. If you overload your SUV and drive that fast you asking for trouble.

RE: What I don't get is...
By Alexvrb on 7/13/2010 11:44:22 PM , Rating: 3
It was Ford's fault AND Firestone's fault. They both pointed the fingers at each other, and Firestone recieved most of the blame, even though the fault was about 50/50. Ford demanded dirt cheap tires, Firestone obliged - a little too much, shipping a lot of defective tires. They didn't ALL fail, so just because YOURS was fine didn't mean they shouldn't have issued a recall.

Now for Ford's part in the mess - the first gen Explorer handled like dogshat and was too rollover-happy. What was Ford's brilliant solution? Set the tire pressure specs to 26 psi. That's absurdly low for a vehicle like that. On top of that, how many people do you know that check their tire pressure every day?

So if you're at 26 psi to start with, and you're down a few psi, the tires are hot, and you've got crappy possibly defective tires... bad things are bound to happen. If you get a normal flat, no big deal usually. But catastrophic failure (blowout, tire tread separation, etc) especially on the REAR of an already-unstable SUV, at highway speeds? Even a experienced test driver, who knows it is going to happen, might not be able to keep it under control.

By the way, the ones that suffered from tire tread separation? They weren't all retreads - far from it.

RE: What I don't get is...
By Dingmatt on 7/14/2010 3:23:07 AM , Rating: 2
Only 80mph for a truck? That strikes me as being really dangerous. The lowest speed rating for any tyres in the UK is 81mph with the standard being around 140mph.

RE: What I don't get is...
By Spuke on 7/14/2010 10:21:28 AM , Rating: 2
Only 80mph for a truck? That strikes me as being really dangerous.
I don't know where the other poster got that info. Tires are not blanket rated and no vehicles tops speeds exceeds their tires ratings. He should try actually looking at his tires sometime. There is a speed rating on them. Now if he bought new tires and didn't bother to match the speed (or load) ratings with the OEM's, then he's an idiot.

RE: What I don't get is...
By DominionSeraph on 7/15/2010 8:40:11 AM , Rating: 2
My Grand Prix GTP came with V rated tires, and it'll do more than 149. (Granted, not much more, but it still warrants a W.)

RE: What I don't get is...
By TallCoolOne on 7/13/2010 7:07:27 PM , Rating: 4
Only the right foot should be used when driving an automatic. The left foot should be used only for clutch on a manual. That way in a panic stop you're sure to release the gas before applying the brake. Another problem with using the left foot for brake is that you might "ride" the pedal when resting your foot on it. This causes brake wear and keeps the brake light on constantly, taking away the warning to drivers behind you if you suddenly slow down.

RE: What I don't get is...
By Nutzo on 7/13/2010 6:01:07 PM , Rating: 2
The one fatal crash was due to "incorrect" floor mats installed in the car. i.e floor mats that didn't fit because there where from a different car.

All they had to due was shift the car into neutral or turn the car off, but they didn't.

Since the car had a push button starter instead of a key, and the car was a loaner, they likely didn't know that to force shut down the car they needed to hold down the start button for 4 seconds (just like you would force power down a PC). Ignorance can be deadly.

FYI: I own 2 Toyotas, including an 8 year old Camry, and they've been great. However I do think Toyota has slipped in quality the last few years, not due to the accelerator problem, but due to the number of other problems I've seen.

RE: What I don't get is...
By The0ne on 7/13/2010 6:52:09 PM , Rating: 3
You guys are asking too much of these drivers. If they can't tell the difference between the accelerator and brake then they are far gone in their head. If they can't figure out how to clear the carpet jamming their accelerator, you know like pulling it back with you heel, then they are far gone.

Asking anymore of these type of drivers is near impossible. Seriously, you may cause more problems than trying to resolve. You ask them to put the car in neutral and soon enough you'll have all them in reverse or L1/L2. Don't ask me how, but they will get it there. Just leave these type of people alone and stay FAR away!

RE: What I don't get is...
By wolrah on 7/13/2010 8:46:01 PM , Rating: 2
Asking anymore of these type of drivers is near impossible. Seriously, you may cause more problems than trying to resolve. You ask them to put the car in neutral and soon enough you'll have all them in reverse or L1/L2. Don't ask me how, but they will get it there. Just leave these type of people alone and stay FAR away!

The problem is these are the kind of idiots we have to share the road with. Unfortunately this country sees driving as a right rather than a privilege (really, after I took the driving test when I was 16 my first thought was "anyone who failed this should never be allowed to operate a motorized item of any kind again forever" since it was so retardedly easy.

Computers can't yet drive competently on regular roads (no offense meant to the DARPA GC teams and such but I mean driving on I-71 in rush hour, not closed courses with semi-controlled obstacles), but they could sure pass an Ohio driving test. From what I've heard, the rest of the US is not much different.

Our driver's licensing is like an A+ certification or the "Technician" class amateur radio license; if you have a pulse and a remote interest in the topic you can pass without a question.

In my perfect world, we'd still have a basic license class along these lines since our geographical distribution of people and lack of a usable mass transit system in most areas pretty much requires that most adults be able to drive, but that basic class would not be allowed to drive anything larger than a compact sedan to minimize the damage they can cause.

Next step up would allow all cars and unibody trucks/SUVs below 5000 or so lbs as well as trailers up to the length and weight of the vehicle. This would be what most people would likely have and would require that one pass a proper training course along the lines of the "Teen Driving School" program BMW offers which covers panic stops, emergency maneuvers, etc. and lets the driver experience and get used to how their vehicle will react when pushed to its limit.

The third level would open up the vehicle options to almost everything on the road. Anything with six or less wheels and weighing under 12,000 lbs would be fair game, as well as any trailers compatible with a Class IV ball hitch. Hydraulic brakes only though.

I'm not sure whether the last class before CDL should be a class in itself or an endorsement on the third, but this would be where the largest vehicles on the road not requiring a CDL would be stuck. RVs with air brakes or tag axles, gooseneck/5th wheel trailers, etc.

Lest you think I'm just wanting to regulate others, I myself occasionally drive a 38 foot RV weighing in at over 28,000 lbs loaded with a Caterpillar diesel and an air brake system. The thing is huge, air brakes respond much differently than hydraulics, and it'll plow through anything if you're not careful, yet I'm allowed to drive it on the same license I got from a 10 minute written test and 15 minutes of practical examination in a Buick Regal when I was 16.

In my eyes that is wrong and needs to be solved. There are actually a number of RV-specific exemptions to CDL requirements, since any non-RV vehicle weighing this much or equipped with air brakes would have required a CDL to legally operate. You can thank the AARP for that from my understanding, since a lot of the RVers with the money for these big rigs are seniors.

RE: What I don't get is...
By fleabag on 7/14/2010 12:53:02 AM , Rating: 1
To answer your question... This sudden acceleration thing actually happened to me and it was caused by the floormat. Now you ask yourself, how does this happen? There are anchors on the floormats and sometimes people don't anchor the floormat due to carelessness (in my case it was my dad), so the floormat when it's NOT ON AN ANCHOR will eventually slide up right under the accelerator pedal, getting caught between the floor and the accelerator.

Essentially, it's user error and since most users don't know squat about why something is the way it is, things like this happen. The reason why I didn't crash and maybe other people did is because I was calm and had the frame of mind to workout what was going on, and instead of shifting into neutral for fear of damaging the engine, I thought about the problem a little more (mind you I was having a very hard time keeping the car's speed under control) before I finally just ripped out the floormat, completely resolving the issue itself.

This NEVER would have happened had the floormat been properly anchored.

"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates

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