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#2728 of 3623 No Easy Answer for the Toyo Problem
Mar 15, 2010 (3:53 pm)
From Washington Post:
No easy answer for the Toyota problem
By Jeremy Anwyl
Tuesday, March 16, 2010; A19
Lately it seems that each day brings another report of a driver's terrifying experience with an out-of-control Toyota. There have been at least four congressional hearings in as many weeks.
Even the most confident consumer has to wonder what is causing all this and, more fundamentally, whether Toyotas are safe to drive.
The second question is easier to answer. Despite the flurry of reports, incidents with speeding vehicles are rare. And vehicles today, including Toyotas, are safer than ever.
While we have heard much recently about "smart pedals," floor mats and sticky throttles, it has not been made clear what is behind the incidents of sudden acceleration. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been investigating sudden vehicle acceleration for a few decades, but it has little new to offer since the 1989 Audi investigation. During that time the agency reported that many incidents of sudden or unintended acceleration by Audi drivers were caused when drivers stepped on the gas instead of the brake.
Ultimately, Audi and other automakers implemented features that required brakes to be depressed when shifting gears out of park, and reports of sudden acceleration when drivers started their cars dropped noticeably.
But as vehicles have become more advanced and, presumably, safer, complaints have still been logged.
As a consumer resource for automotive information, Edmunds.com has a stake in finding answers. We also have a data team that crunches numbers, and we have vehicle testers, both of which we recently assigned to help solve the mystery of unintended acceleration.
We assigned 25 staffers to review, line by line, the published consumer complaint data available on the NHTSA Web site. The database, with more than 760,000 records, is, simply put, a mess. After reading each complaint since model-year 2005, we found that 30 percent of the original complaints were miscategorized; more than 26 percent were duplicates; and hundreds were not complaints but merely comments or suggestions.
When we focused on the major automakers and limited our review to recent-model-year vehicles (2005 to present), the 52,000 complaints through September 2009 -- a fair stopping point, because it was before news reports erupted -- showed that every car company had incidents of sudden acceleration. This is not strictly a Toyota issue. NHTSA head David L. Strickland said as much when he told Congress recently that Toyota's rate of complaints was "unremarkable."
And for driver error to be the likely culprit, a simple statistical review of complaint data should show a relatively uniform distribution across automakers. But our review of NHTSA data showed variations in complaints by manufacturer. While human error may be a factor, it's not the only cause.
Theories about sudden acceleration broadly fall into four categories: First, some sort of electrical interference or computer glitch. Second, a general mechanical failure, such as a sticky throttle. Third, design factors such as floor mats (meaning that the vehicle was functioning correctly, but a design lapse increased the chance of an incident). Fourth, driver error, also known as pedal misapplication.
We tried to re-create the circumstances surrounding some recent incidents. We took the highest-horsepower Toyota Camry to the test track to see whether the brakes could stop a runaway vehicle -- which they can. Next we looked at the Toyota Prius. We found that when the vehicle is accelerating, a simple tap of the transmission shifter into neutral disengages the throttle, and the vehicle coasts to a halt -- even if the brakes are not applied.
What does all this mean? As our testing confirms and government regulators and Toyota have said recently, it is extremely difficult to re-create the out-of-control incidents being reported. Reports on Monday regarding a runaway Prius in San Diego were once again inconclusive. It is impossible to rule out any possibilities: electrical, mechanical, design or driver-related.
So where do we go from here? The Transportation Department and NHTSA should take the lead in coordinating an effort that involves all manufacturers. Perhaps by sharing data and working collaboratively, they can find an answer that working individually has rendered elusive.
We need to focus on the right problem. Toyota's embarrassment about communication lapses and likely government regulatory fixes miss the point. Our roads will be safer when the root cause of unintended acceleration is known.
The case for saving property and lives should be obvious. But there is another risk for consumers: Toyota's legal bill for unintended-acceleration cases will be in the billions. Soon enough, entrepreneurial lawyers will realize that other car companies are vulnerable. And who ends up covering this tab? Future car buyers -- in the form of higher prices.
The writer is chief executive of Edmunds.com, which recently announced a competition with a cash prize for anyone who can demonstrate in a verifiable manner the reason for unintended acceleration.
#2729 of 3623 Re: NY Times editorial [lemko]
Mar 15, 2010 (4:03 pm)
Tell me you hate GM workers and GM after driving that old Buick.
#2730 of 3623 Re: NHTSA Inspection Report - Lexus Crash [wwest]
Mar 15, 2010 (4:08 pm)
My neighbor has a Lexus ES350, but only carpet mats. She already told me she can not imagine the carpet causing a problem w the pedal. But her car is under recall for mats. I have not actually seen her vehicle to verify same.
Bob Baker of Lexus/Toyota may have some legal problems regarding their actions/lack of actions since they own/rented that Lexus..
Sorry, my vehicle is a RAV4 w rubber all weather mats. Not issue at all.
#2731 of 3623 Re: NHTSA Inspection Report - Lexus Crash [sharonkl]
Mar 15, 2010 (4:20 pm)
I wonder what paragraph 5 said that they blacked it out.
#2732 of 3623 Re: No Easy Answer for the Toyo Problem [djohnson1]
Mar 15, 2010 (4:21 pm)
A good management approach/analysis would be to get the proven most likely vehicles that had SUA/UA incidents. Test them and drive them. Pay particular attention to those with one proven or more than two complaints. Run the tests. Have them drive these autos for personal use too. if legally possible. Financially should be more beneficial, than the monetary effects from a lost liability lawsuit.
#2733 of 3623 Re: OK then [wwest]
Mar 15, 2010 (4:38 pm)
Well, as I said on another thread, let's line up all the interested parties, including Toyota, and have them all take a lie detector test to be administered by a neutral third party. Then let the chips fall where they may.
I have heard that these tests cannot be used in court, but they certainly could be used in the court of public opinion.
#2734 of 3623 Re: NHTSA Inspection Report - Lexus Crash [sharonkl]
Mar 15, 2010 (4:54 pm)
If you are lucky, your RAV4 was built in Woodstock Ontario Canada and they don't seem to be having the same problems with run away cars. They must use different parts then the ones in the States. They have winter up there 9 months a year, so when they go from their igloos to the car they leave their snowshoes on and drive and don't have a problem with the mats and gas pedals. Only in America.
#2735 of 3623 Re: NHTSA Inspection Report - Lexus Crash [junkyardog]
Mar 15, 2010 (5:18 pm)
If I lived in those area with those same climate conditions actually I wouldn't have chosen a RAV4. But I live in California so own one. And don't go to Sierra's for snow skiing. Smile - do vividly remember the winters of Nebraska though.
Well, my vehicle was made in Japan. Guess that may eliminate my auto. Does Canada have good national - active safety agency system??
#2736 of 3623 Re: NHTSA Inspection Report - Lexus Crash [gagrice]
Mar 15, 2010 (5:22 pm)
That is good question???? But may have been something about the 4 people that died. That was just what I personally felt though.
Any ideas, other suggestions??
#2737 of 3623 Re: OK then [doidoadiesel]
Mar 15, 2010 (5:43 pm)
I remember there was alot of cell phone interference during call. Call was very short it, and then it seemed the impending crash recognized by famliy - which is when poor guy in back said "pray, pray." Screams. Then line went dead.
I really don't want to say anything bad about this poor family. I don't understand all of what happened. None of us do.
You do mention evidence. Yikes - that is another question to all of this. Toyota has actually been quite secretive about their EDR's or black box. Toyota said they could not read Saylors data. But be aware they have done this frequently They only had one reader - only proprietary they claim - they insist they are only ones allowed to read. Must be done and read byToyota only.
Here in US these system have been around since late 1970's. Toyota has history of withholding information, requiring a court order, making contradicting statements on what black box records and if/when gotten many times they leave columns blank. And US has no laws as auto manufacturers have fought against. Is to be law 9/01/2012. American manufacturers now do have on cars and use a Bosch system which can be read by any third party, police, etc.NHTSA has info too. For some reason Japanese manufacturers have been quite secretive. Hope law will change this approach, but - how can it take 12 years to get it implemented?