U.S. study: Driver error in Toyota crashes

By Associated Press
Posted July 13, 2010 at 4:02 p.m.

The Department of Transportation has analyzed dozens of black boxes in Toyota vehicles involved in accidents blamed on unintended acceleration, finding the throttles were open and the brakes were not engaged, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

That suggests that drivers of the speeding cars were stepping on the accelerator rather than the brakes. The vehicles investigated came from a sample in which the drivers said they were braking but failed to stop the car before crashing, the newspaper said, citing unnamed sources familiar with the findings.

Transportation Department officials declined to confirm the report and did not comment. Toyota spokesman Mike Michels said the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not shared its findings with the Japanese automaker but said its findings from investigations of unintended acceleration are consistent with the report.

The black boxes, called event data recorders,  track a number of details about a vehicle around the time of an accident, including which pedals were applied and how fast the car was traveling.

Toyota has recalled more than 8.5 million vehicles worldwide since fall due to faulty accelerators, floor mats that may trap gas pedals and brake problems in Priuses, among other problems. The largest problems were due to unintended acceleration, which the automaker has sought to address by fixing the gas pedals and floor mats.

The government has said unintended acceleration in Toyotas may have been involved in the deaths of 93 people in the last decade. The agency has received about 3,000 complaints of sudden acceleration in Toyotas.

Daniel Smith, NHTSA’s associate administrator for enforcement, told a panel with the National Academy of Sciences reviewing unintended acceleration last month that the agency had not yet found¬† defects beyond the two problems cited by Toyota: pedals that can become entrapped by floor mats and sticking accelerators.

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  1. Rod July 13, 2010 at 8:02 pm

    The same conclusion was arrived at after a thorough study of Audi automobiles a few decades past when that company was maligned when several owners claimed sudden acceleration and sued. Driver error. It took Audi years to clear its name. My entire family owns Toyotas and we have for decades with no sudden acceleration problems or any problems other than the cars never die. Obese American drivers looking for some easy money by maligning the world’s most successful car manufacturer. What a sad statement about this country. I only wish there was some way those drivers who filed these bogus law suits would be forced to pay Toyota for damages to Toyota’s reputation. Now that would truly be democracy!

  2. RamRod July 14, 2010 at 8:08 a.m.

    Of course, the real truth comes out and is reported in an “oh, bye-the-way” manner. Typical news manipulation ploy.

    Meanwhile, every other automotive brand has their recalls and class-action suits only minimally covered, if at all.

  3. ejhickey July 14, 2010 at 8:21 a.m.

    where are the hysterical anti- toyota commentators now that we have found it the main problem was the “Nuts” behind the steering wheel?

  4. Craig July 14, 2010 at 9:15 a.m.

    I guess that’s what Toyota deserves for going against Government Motors.

  5. dsafdf July 14, 2010 at 10:18 a.m.


  6. desk36 July 14, 2010 at 10:25 a.m.

    Shame on the Tribune for burying this story at the bottom of its webpage.

    The same “journalists” that were happy to run headlines on incomplete facts aren’t professional enough to finish the story (read: highlight their own incompetence) in a similar fashion?

    The City deserves better.

  7. Greg July 14, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    So after all the drama and hysteria, here were are. The article quotes the number of complains the agency recieved in regards to sudden acceleration of Toyota. Would like to hear how that compares to other makes (it sounds like a large number, but is it?)…

  8. j martinez July 14, 2010 at 6:44 pm

    I own a Toyota and find the statement that these people were standing on their accelerators not their brakes incredulous, unless of course if they were novice drivers or were so old and incabable that they should not have been driving period. There is no way to make a driving mistake of that magnitude if you’re a capable driver.