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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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.

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