Everyone has heard about the runaway cars that Toyota was forced to recall, however the most recent studies are reporting that these recalls were not necessary. What once was considered one of biggest safety scandals in Toyota history, is being reported as a giant myth. The most recent US Government findings are showing that it was the actually the drivers fault in almost every case. This is a big change of position for US government who was very hostile a few months ago when Akio Toyoda delivered a seemingly humble apology to congress.
After more than 9.5 million Toyota vehicles were recalled, the US Transportation Department and NASA are both reveling that there may never have been a problem with these cars at all. In fact, in almost every case, the drivers failed to press the brake until the final moment before an impact, if they hit the breaks at all. The preliminary report covered the 58 most well known crashes that were attributed to the defective Toyotas. Investigators discovered that in 35 of those cases, the brake was never depressed. Additionally, in 14 other accidents, only partial braking was even used. In 1 case, both the brake and the accelerator were floored and in another, the gas pedal got wedged under the floor mat, which will always make the brakes useless. To matters worse (or better) for Toyota, so far there have been zero accidents that shown any evidence that the cause was an electronic malfunction and the recall may have been completely unnecessary
Recently, the United States Department of Transportation wanted to reiterate that these results are a very small part of a comprehensive investigation and there is still a lot more research that is currently underway. The goal of this research is to determine whether or not there is any potential for electronic or software defects to be part of the cause of the “unintended accelerations” that Toyota was previously blamed for. This is great news for Toyota who, in February, was blamed by federal safety regulators for causing accidents that were tied to at least 34 deaths over the last decade. The most notable of which was when a police officer and 3 of his relatives were killed as their Toyota Lexus shot down the driveway and into traffic.
David Champion, the Director of Consumer Reports (Testing Division), reported that Toyota, during testing, did have a higher incident rate and more complaints, however this may be because a majority of Toyota drivers are an older demographic, which is statistically much more prone to be involved with an accident.
While this news is great for Toyota insofar that if these studies continue to corroborate the early finding, then it clearly is not an electronic or software related issue, it may be too late to matter. Consider this, what if it is discovered that none of this was actually Toyota’s fault. They still had to recall nearly 10 million vehicles and they have already been run through the mud in the public arena. Even if this is not their fault, they have already been dealt a devastating blow that may take a lot of work and a lot of time to complete a full recovery from.