Told Ya

Based on past studies of sudden acceleration problems  (e.g. that the vast majority of sudden acceleration problems mysteriously happen to senior citizens) I predicted that many of the Toyota failures would come down to operator error.  The incentives for operators are substantial, even before tort action, both from a psychological and monetary standpoint to blame their own errors on Toyota.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has analyzed dozens of data recorders from Toyota Motor Corp. vehicles involved in accidents blamed on sudden acceleration and found that at the time of the crashes, throttles were wide open and the brakes were not engaged, people familiar with the findings said.

The results suggest that some drivers who said their Toyota and Lexus vehicles surged out of control were mistakenly flooring the accelerator when they intended to jam on the brakes. But the findings don't exonerate Toyota from two known issues blamed for sudden acceleration in its vehicles: sticky accelerator pedals and floor mats that can trap accelerator pedals to the floor.

The findings by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration involve a sample of reports in which a driver of a Toyota vehicle said the brakes were depressed but failed to stop the car from accelerating and ultimately crashing.

The data recorders analyzed by NHTSA were selected by the agency, not Toyota, based on complaints the drivers had filed with the government.

The findings are consistent with a 1989 government-sponsored study that blamed similar driver mistakes for a rash of sudden-acceleration reports involving Audi 5000 sedans.

The Toyota findings, which haven't been released by NHTSA, support Toyota's position that sudden-acceleration reports involving its vehicles weren't caused by electronic glitches in computer-controlled throttle systems, as some safety advocates and plaintiffs' attorneys have alleged. More than 100 people have sued the auto maker claiming crashes were the result of faulty electronics.

Of course breast implants pretty clearly never caused immune disorders, but that did not stop tort lawyers from bankrupting an entire industry on that theory.  So it is nice that Toyota has the facts on its side, but that may or may not help in court, and almost certainly will not help in Congress or the Administration, whose agendas were always driven more by the desire to help domestic auto companies against a powerful foreign rival.

  • Rick C

    I was pretty sure when this story dropped off the charts that that was an indicator it was going to turn out to be operator error.

  • http://evilredscandi.blogspot.com Evil Red Scandi

    Anyone want to bet that the government will wuss out and call it "pedal misapplication" like they did with the Audi cases? "Driver is a frigtard" would be so much more appropriate.

  • perlhaqr

    Wow. Two whole crashes. Out of what, a million MVAs each year in the US?

  • sabril

    It seems to me that this is a situation where it's better to have a manual transmission. If you drive a manual transmission car, you get in the habit of throwing out the clutch when you brake the car. So that if you hit the throttle by accident, the car still won't accelerate. Instead, the engine will race which tells you that you are hitting wrong pedal.

  • me

    how do you throw out the clutch? Thought you just step on the pedal. :)

  • Jim Collins

    So that's why my Mazda has pins that lock the floormats in place.

    I'm waiting for somebody (trial lawyer) to start screaming "Cover Up!".

  • rox_publius

    what sabril said.

    i will always buy a manual (because i am a control freak), and this is an issue that will never occur while driving one.

  • anon

    me wrote: "how do you throw out the clutch? Thought you just step on the pedal."

    And that does what? That's right, moves the "throw out bearing" towards the flywheel, thus seperating the clutch plates.

    http://www.edmunds.com/ownership/techcenter/articles/43837/article.html

    That said, I've never said "throwing out the clutch" except when throwing clutch components into a dumpter.

  • caseyboy

    You can bet that these new facts won't get in the way of politicians who want to demonize a successful foreign automaker that is not highly unionized. I agree, they want to protect the domestic automakers like GMC whose shareholders are made up of a large number of......... can you guess????? That's right union members, United Auto Workers that is.

  • GaryP

    No one is safe from lawyers regardless of little things like facts.

    No one is safe from a government completely captured by monied special interest groups (unions are certainly one, but not the only, example).

    Toyota must die to ensure that the UAW lives.

  • Benjamin Cole

    I just wish the right-wing would spend as much effort debunking what our coprolitic defense establishment considers "safe" and the amount of money we spend for "safety."

    We have a huge Navy to "keep shipping lanes open." Who wants to close shipping lanes? I won't even mention that surface ships can be sunk quickly in real battles (as the S. Koreans found out recently).

    Who is going to invade the US? Could we not defend our shores with a few attack subs, a few ballastic missile subs, and perhaps some land-based missiles?

    Any attacking force would be wiped out before they got here, and their homeland too.

    We will spend $10 trillion in the next 10 years on "national defense." You might want to call it "national patronage." The War on Terror should be renamed "The War on Your Pocketbook."

    Some quick math: We have no nation-states as enemies, and even the hostile states have no militaries to speak of. We will spend $10 trillion in next 10 years on national defense. Let's assume there are 10,000 terrorists in the world. That's a big estimate, but let's just say.

    Okay, $10 trillion divided by 10,000 equals $1 billion.

    We will spend $1 billion per terrorist in the next 10 years.

    I hope you feel "safe."

  • Rick C

    Benjamin Cole: Please don't crap your off-topic rants all over Warren's blog.

  • Bama

    I think the FDA banned silicone breast implants. Then it quietly unbanned them a decade later, when it realized there was no evidence. Just like Toyota will quietly going back to making reliable safe cars.

    And Benjamin Cole, if we didn't need to import anything, like oil, then we wouldn't need a Navy to keep shipping lanes open. Otherwise enemies with effective Naval forces could paralyze oil flows, and effectively destroy the United States economy. I would guess without oil the US would collapse within four weeks. Silly Navy!

  • caseyboy

    I would guess that Big Ben Cole has pasted this rant on a number of blog sites and just modified the first sentence in an unsuccessful attempt to make it somewhat relevant.

  • Ted Rado

    This is another example of the politicians (aka morons) wanting to demonize someone every time there is an accident or a problem. It would be a blessing if we got the facts first and crucify someone second.

    In the gulf oil spill case, nobody as yet knows what went wrong. There were the required safety devices, but for some reason they did not work. Meanwhile, we will "kick their ass", threaten to throw them in jail, etc. Why not wait until investigators find out the cause of a problem before going berserk?

    Any human activity will have accidents, unexpected side effects, etc. We should make every effort to minimize these and at the same time have in place procedures and equipment to cope with them when the inevitable happens. The Feds obviously had no plan in place to deal with the oil spill.

    It remains to be seen what went wrong in the Toyota case and the BP case. I guess it's more fun to whack somebody than get the facts first.