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A Congress-ordered investigation by top auto, mechanical, and electronics experts found that driver error was to blame in most cases of Toyota vehicle acceleration. There was no link to electronic defects found.
"There is no electronic-based cause for unintended high-speed acceleration in Toyotas" -- Ray LaHood

Like a blockbuster trial, the verdict of Congress's probe into unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles was eagerly awaited.  Engineering experts at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, NASA, Department of Transportation piled through mounds of test data on thousands of vehicles.

Today, Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood released the official verdict: "There is no electronic-based cause for unintended high-speed acceleration in Toyotas."

Toyota, the world's largest automaker by volume, recalled 8 million vehicles over the last year due to problems with the floor mats and electronic accelerator pedals.

What the report found was that the only causes of unwanted acceleration were the previously identified ones -- physical problems with the accelerator pedal design that caused it to stick in place and loose floor mats that could jam the accelerator or brake pedals.  These problems were independent from electronic braking glitches that were affecting Toyota Prius hybrid vehicle. 

The report vindicated Toyota's electronic controls, which have been used in Toyota vehicles since 2002.  The news sent shares of the Japanese automaker's stock 4.5 percent upwards. 

The problems left Toyota's image badly stained.  The issues were suspected to be to blame in 89 acceleration-related deaths.  However, only a few of those were definitively substantiated to be due to the sticking pedal or sliding floor mats.  In most cases, driver error was to blame.  In at least one case the driver appeared to be faking the acceleration to try to sue Toyota. 

Toyota has already paid $50M USD to the U.S. federal government for failing to bring them to the attention of federal regulators, despite being aware of them.  With state and local lawsuits, the automaker could face an estimated $10B USD liability, according to a Reuters report. 

About a year ago, President Akio Toyoda paid Congress a visit to personally apologize for the problems and cover-up.  He stated he was "deeply sorry" for these issues.

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RE: Does it matter?
By Brandon Hill on 2/8/2011 3:44:11 PM , Rating: 5
I think the point being made by is that a few accidents were narrowed down to either improperly installed floormats **facepalm** or a "rogue" sticking gas pedal. The rest of them are simply driver error/stupidity (i.e. hitting the gas instead of the brake).

All this report does is put water on the flames claiming that there is some widespread software/electrical problem causing Toyotas to go crazy.

RE: Does it matter?
By Galcobar on 2/9/2011 6:29:07 AM , Rating: 2
Not sure how many people were paying attention to the news in the late 1980s when Audi went through pretty much exactly the same thing.

It took a three-year investigation by the NHSTA to conclude that reports of sudden acceleration out of park or low speed were due to driver error (primary reason was evidently a tighter pedal spacing that was common in U.S. cars at the time).

The thousands of reports on Toyota were a form of mob mentality -- or the power of suggestion. A genuine issue, the sticky gas pedals (which was a matter of a slow pedal return) and improperly installed floor mats (which required you to ignore the hooks Toyota mats use to prevent mat movement) became an idea. That idea was seized upon by anyone who had an accident in a Toyota as an explanation which absolved them of responsibility.

Human nature. We're so good at self-delusion that one woman claimed it was ageist and sexist to suggest driver error when a video showed she never hit the brakes as she drove into a building.

The Toyota defence was born. Even managed an acquittal for a man previously convicted, and his Toyota wasn't one involved in the recalls.

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