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  (Source: LeaseTrader.com)
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 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.


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