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 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.

"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007

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