The NHTSA is finally starting to release details that would clarify the cause behind “unintended acceleration” of Toyota vehicles. In a briefing before Congress, NHTSA officials presented data on 58 crashes involving Toyota vehicles, where owners claimed sudden, unintended acceleration. Here’s the breakdown by case:
• 35 crashes (60%) showed no application of the brakes, combined with a wide open throttle. Call this “driver error”.
• 14 crashes (24%) showed partial braking. Brakes were applied late in nine cases, mid-crash in two and early in three cases. Again, call this “driver error”.
• 1 crash was attributed to accelerator pedal entrapment, now addressed by Toyota.
• 1 crash showed both gas and brake fully depressed, again, most likely operator error.
• 1 crash showed inconclusive data, while another crash was found to have data from a separate incident.
• 5 crashes had no data available.
You would think that the NHTSA would abandon their witch hunt and move on, as they did with Audi back in 1989, but you’d be wrong. Olivia Alair, spokeswoman for the NHTSA, was quoted by The Detroit News as follows:
“Reviewing event data recorders is one small part of (NHTSA’s) effort to get to the bottom of unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles. At this early period in the investigation, engineers have not identified any new safety defects in Toyotas other than sticking gas pedals or pedal entrapment.”
So, in other words, the quest to find more problems with Toyota will likely continue until the NHTSA (now with NASA’s help) finds electronic or software problems in Toyota vehicles. Doesn’t it go counter to common sense to keep looking for problems that don’t exist? Keep in mind that, prior to the massive media exposure, Toyota was third in the number of unintended acceleration claims; they trailed Audi / VW and Ford, yet nothing has been done to investigate these automakers. Why? Wouldn’t the time, money and effort be better spent on addressing the real problem, which is driver training and retraining?
Stay tuned, since this is a long way from over. The NHTSA will keep digging until they do find something, which begs the question of how long before they start inventing data that shows fault with Toyota’s electronics or software? I may love my country, but I sure as hell don’t trust my elected leaders to act in my best interest.