After closely following Toyota’s unintended acceleration problems for SmartPlanet.com in late 2009 and for the first three months of 2010, the joint government-Toyota tests saying drivers were to blame for accidents caused by allegedly stuck accelerators far from exonerates Toyota.
The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that black boxes known as “event data recorders” from vehicles showed that the brakes were not applied at impact while the throttles were wide open. I have no problem with the information assuming it can be verified. There’s a lot bad drivers out there who mistake the accelerator for the brake (when depressed, they react sorta differently, don’t they?).
Here’s my questions if driver error turns out to be the leading cause of the accidents:
1) Why did a rash of this happen with Toyotas and not other car brands?
2) Has Toyota done an exceptionally poor job in the engineering of the juxtaposition of brake pedals and accelerators? Are they too close together or similar in feel that one could be mistaken for the other?
3) What is the reliability of event data recorders?
4) How important is data at impact relative to the circumstances leading up to the crash?
5) Can that many drivers be at fault in what are believed to be thousands in unintended acceleration incidents?
6) Why was Toyota not as forthcoming about the magnitude of the problem early on?
7) And if these latest findings are true and are the driver error is leading cause of the crashes, has Toyota been unfairly maligned?
Or did the accelerators just get stuck as predominantly alleged? The path to the truth has many twists and turns and these latest findings are one more example of that. It’ll be years before this mystery is solved.
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