Toyota Recalls Issue Caused By ‘Driver Error’


A key element of the US government’s investigation of Toyota Motor Corporation, electronic throttles and other systems found no defects beyond what is known to explain crashes blamed on unintended acceleration, the Transportation Department said recently.

Findings presented to Congress on the agency’s review of selected Toyota electronic data recorders are preliminary and could end up bolstering the auto maker’s contention that mechanical and equipment problems behind huge recalls and possible driver error are to blame, not vehicle electronics.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said it drew no conclusions from the examination of 58 recorders as part of its multi-layered investigation to see if electronic throttles may have glitches that in rare cases can cause unexpected surges or even wild acceleration.

In more than half of the “black boxes” examined, there was no indication that drivers even applied brakes and in other cases, partial braking was noted.

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Toyota, which recalled more than 8 million cars worldwide this year and last over unintended acceleration related to sticking gas pedals and loose floor mats that can jam the accelerator, has said its throttle systems are sound.

Toyota was fined $16 million this year for failing to disclose the so-called “sticky pedal” problem to regulators.

Of the 58 recorders studied, 35 showed no braking, which could indicate driver error. Others revealed partial braking and there was no measurable data in five cases. A comprehensive report involving an independent scientific panel is not expected until 2011.

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