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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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Seems odd.
By dwalton on 7/13/2010 7:11:22 PM , Rating: 3
Seems odd that statistic wise NHTSA blamed it on Toyota drivers'error basically 98.7% of the time when examining fatal cases while only blaming Toyota's floor mats and sticky acelerator for some (what the hell is some?)crashes.

How can floor mats and sticky accelerators affect Toyota autos enough to make sudden accelerator events statistically more likely than any other brand yet only are attributed to a little over 1% of fatal incidents investigated by NHTSA involving Toyotas.

Personally, I don't how the NHTSA can reliably determine anything about this event though no fault on them. I mean 2262 events have been reported since 1999 and over that time Toyota sold like what, 10-12 million cars into the US?

Even with rough math thats like 0.00023% of cars sold by Toyota producing a sudden acceleration event. But there is no telling how many times those drivers pressed the accelerator during the life of those vehicles before the events occured. You're talking millions of cars, driven millions of miles with millions of accelerator presses over a decade. How do you reproduce that in a lab in a few months?

Does anyone knows why this issue never affected Toyota's hybrid lineup including hybrid Camrys and Highlanders (they were never recalled)? Did they come with different sets of floor mats or accelerators?

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