Toyota Acceleration Not Caused by Electronics
The electronic controls in Toyota vehicles don’t appear to have caused any sudden acceleration accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said so yesterday in a preliminary report to Congress. In not one of the 58 cases examined did the NHTSA find any evidence of electronic malfunction.
- Preliminary report finds nothing wrong with electronics
- Evidence suggests driver error in some cases
- Motor Vehicle Safety Act would add safety features to new cars
Toyota Findings Not Final; Other Causes Sought
The report relied heavily on information captured by event data recorders on the affected vehicles. These have been compared to the "black boxes" on commercial aircraft, but they do not operate identically. Some critics claim Toyota’s event data recorders could be hoodwinked by the same electronics malfunction that would cause sudden acceleration. The report did find several cases where the driver never hit the brakes or stepped on the gas and brake pedals at the same time. In only one case did the gas pedal get trapped under a floor mat.
Reports of sudden acceleration spawned a massive recall. Toyota inspected and fixed the gas pedals on millions of vehicles. The problem sparked a wave of litigation too. Altogether Toyota fielded about 3,000 complaints of unintended acceleration. These cases include 93 fatalities.
Unintended acceleration also prompted Democratic lawmakers to introduce legislation to add safety features to passenger vehicles. The Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2010 would also give more money to the NHTSA to study vehicle control electronics. The bill’s been reported out of committee to the House of Representatives, but no word yet on when it may come to a vote.
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