Oopsies! Toyota Not To Blame For Unintended Acceleration

A federal investigation looking into the unintended acceleration of Toyotas has concluded that Toyota is not to blame.  Jalopnik, my favorite automotive blog, features a great posting by Justin Hyde on this subject:

The U.S. government’s ten-month probe into Toyota validates the initially unpopular argument we at Jalopnik put forth at the start of this unintended acceleration witch hunt: This was a case of people pressing the wrong pedal. In every way, this was Toyota’s beige-ification of cars biting them back, and hard.The probe by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and NASA scientists examined 280,000 lines of Toyota software, 3,054 complaints of sudden acceleration in Toyota vehicles and several dozen individual vehicles. “There is no electronic-based cause for unintended high-speed acceleration in Toyotas. Period,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

(The NASA team did find one theoretical way for a Toyota’s electronic throttle control to screw up and open wide even when the brake was depressed. But doing so requires two inputs at a precise electrical resistance; any variation and the car’s warning lights come on, and NASA reviewed Toyotas own warranty data and found no evidence of any such faults.)

NHTSA officials said the causes were the ones they suspected all along — bulky floormats, sticking gas pedals and driver mistakes. “We found that when a complaint alleged the brakes didn’t work, what most likely happened was pedal misapplication,” said deputy NHTSA administrator Ron Medford.

Yet the proposed solution? More electronics and more regulations. NHTSA officials say they’ll now push forward with three new rules for vehicles, requiring brake-override software, electronic data recorders and new rules for keyless ignition so that people don’t get confused when they have to shut down a car by holding a button for one-Mississippi two-Mississippi. NHTSA will also study pedal design, to see whether vehicles need to be designed with podiatry standards in mind.

I’m still not convinced that Toyota is fully in the clear, especially if gas pedals were sticking, although that falls more on the supplier of the pedals.  Much of what goes into a car is not made by the auto company, but rather by suppliers.  The automaker designs, manufactures, and markets the vehicle.

Anyway, this investigation is a major victory for Toyota, which took a beating from the U.S. government.  A government which partly owned two Toyota competitors (GM and Chrysler).  I don’t want to sound all conspiratorial, but the government had an interest in hurting Toyota and helping GM and Chrysler.

As for the stupid drivers who hit the wrong pedal, you deserve to crash if you’re that stupid.  And if your car does, for whatever reason, start to accelerate on its own, slam on the brakes and shift into neutral.  You won’t damage your car.  Brakes are designed to stop cars even if the throttle is wide open, and engines have rev limiters so that shifting into neutral won’t blow your engine.

The proposed solution, more regulation and electronics, won’t do anything in my view.  The problem in this case was idiot drivers.  The government needs to learn their are some things it can’t prevent.


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