U.S. Study Points to Driver Error in Many Toyota Crashes
By MIKE RAMSEY And JOSH MITCHELL
Five months into an investigation of safety issues involving Toyota Motor Corp. vehicles, U.S. safety officials have yet to identify any new defects beyond those reported by the car maker itself.
And in more than half of the crashes blamed on sudden acceleration analyzed by the government, data from the vehicles' "black boxes" show the driver was not stepping on the brake at the time of the accident—indicating that driver error may have been at fault.
Those were the findings that U.S. Transportation Department officials disclosed Tuesday to members of Congress, offering the first significant details of the government's ongoing investigation into Toyota's recall of more than 8.5 million vehicles globally since last fall.
Officials stressed that their investigation continues and may take months to complete. But the data, at least for now, support Toyota's assertion that electronic defects in its cars aren't behind the incidents.
Experts at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration examined 58 vehicles involved in sudden-acceleration reports and found data in 35 of them showed the brakes weren't applied at the time of the crash. Data from nine other vehicles showed the brakes were used only in the last moment before impact.
The report doesn't specify driver error as a cause of unintended acceleration, although people familiar with the investigation have said the findings point to pedal misapplication—mistakenly hitting the gas instead of the brakes—as a likely cause. more
Toyota Acceleration Probe: Initial Investigation Finds No Electronics Problems
First Posted: 08-11-10 10:59 AM
WASHINGTON (AP, KEN THOMAS) -- A government investigation into runaway Toyotas has found no new safety defects beyond problems with accelerator pedals that explain reports of sudden acceleration in the vehicles, according to preliminary findings released Tuesday.
Safety experts have said vehicle electronic systems could be to blame for the problems that have led to Toyota's massive recalls but the review by the government, while still at an early stage, has not found any evidence of those issues.
Toyota, the world's largest automaker, has recalled about 9.5 million cars and trucks since October in a quality crisis that has threatened to undermine the Japanese automaker's reputation for building safe vehicles. more