Investigation in the US reveals driver error may have been to blame in the Toyota recall scandal

Driver error may have been a cause of many of the accidents Toyota cars were involved in during the much-publicised sticking accelerator scandal.

Initial findings from an investigation, being conducted by the US National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), looking into cases of “unintended acceleration”, said data recorders showed the brakes may not have been applied by the driver in 35 of the 58 incidents it had examined.

Read more on the fine Toyota paid to the US over the recall scandal

In nine of the 58 cases, the NHTSA told Congress in a briefing, the brakes had been applied late and in one incident both the brake and accelerator pedals were depressed at the same time.

The NHTSA said it was not drawing any conclusions from its initial report, while a spokesman from the US Transportation Department said the findings would form “one small part” of the government’s plans to “get to the bottom of unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles”.

"At this early stage period in the investigation, engineers have not identified any new safety defects," a department spokesman explained.

Around 10 million Toyotas have been recalled globally in the past year, many for a fault with sticking accelerators.

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12 August 2010

One thing not mentioned are the demographics of those crashes. For example there is a much higher proportion of older (70+) drivers involved in "unintended acceleration" for those crashes. Even when you account for the age of Toyota drivers being higher (therefore more oldies in crashes than national average, just because there are more in toyotas) the trend is still that a "sticky accelerator" is far more likely to happen to someone in their 70s... Maybe a lemon sherbet or werthers original slipped down there?

12 August 2010

I always thought there was a lot of "induced hysteria" in the reports about Toyotas "self-accelerating" their way to destruction. Even if the accelerator did get stuck, you could always put the car in neutral or disengage the clutch, if it was a manual transmission.

The fact that the most lurid reports were coming from the USA (Toyota being "foreigners") was also an indication that perhaps these reports should not be taken at face value.

I remember when I lived in the USA there were super-scary reports about Audis "driving away by themselves." It did turn out that the lock-out between "P" and "D" on the automatic gearbox was not sufficiently strong, but no competent driver was in any danger.

Having said that, I see it as inevitable that there will be major quality and safety issues with major brands in the near future. Their in-house MBAs are getting bigger and bigger bonuses for sourcing cheaper parts from anywhere they can find them, so it is only a matter of time until the (quality and safety) chickens come home to roost.

Said MBAs can "prove" on a power-point presentation that the cheaper parts are the same quality (in the same way that bankers could "prove" that sub-prime mortgages were "safe investments").

Just like the banks, the bonus system is a "Pyramid Scheme" with the most senior executives getting the highest pay-outs. So, even if it is obvious to them that quality is being compromised, it is in their interest to stay stumm and collect their bonus money before the whole quality system collapses. Their "golden parachutes" are carefully packed.

...the band was playing Dixie: double-four time...

12 August 2010

[quote Autocar]data recorders showed the brakes may not have been applied by the driver in 35 of the 58 incidents it had examined.
[/quote]

So because the brakes hadnt been applied, this means the accelerator didnt stick? Im not saying that the drivers who had these accidents were all proficient drivers as I imagine some could have been avoided. However, the pedals cearly where sticking as they found the problem and managed to recall and fix it.

12 August 2010

I agree to an extent, the wording isn't very good.

Driver error / inability to handle the situation may have been partly to blame for the accident, but obviously the sticking pedal started the whole chain off.

It is honestly beyond me how anybody was unable to apply the brakes/ force the car into neutral/ use the handbrake to slow it down a bit/ turn off the engine or use something else (i.e a central reservation) to aid slowing down - but it didn't happen to me and maybe my reactions would be very different if it actually did.

12 August 2010

[quote cimardinius]So, even if it is obvious to them that quality is being compromised, it is in their interest to stay stumm and collect their bonus money before the whole quality system collapses.[/quote] Most of them manage to move on to other even more highly paid jobs elsewhere long before the chickens come home to roost. There seems to be some sort of endless perpetual motion escalator in salaries and job-title growth in many big businesses or sectors. Recently read about a female local government executive who had moved from deputy-finance chief in a small local authority to, in quick succession over 18 months or so, chief executive of a minor county, CEO of an area health authority, chair of a Govt. QUANGO with seats on various other central govt. committees and advisory boards. During that time her salary and expenses had risen by 400% and she had accumulated a substantial pension fund. All this had come to light after she had been severely criticised by an enquiry into incompetance at the Health Authority. Needless tosay she remained in post at her final job and professed ignorance of any problems or responsibilty for them.


Enjoying a Fabia VRs - affordable performance

12 August 2010

I'm old enough to have seen this hysteria aimed at Volvo and VW in the past. US brands have also fallen victim to unitentional acceleration issues. In all cases the majority of incidents were eventually attributed to driver error. The tinfoil hat brigade may scream conspiricy but having seen my girlfriend trying to reverse out of a parking space I feel driver error occuring within a sizable chunk of the population is well within the realms of possibility.

We are not so aware of the problem in Europe nor for that matter as concerned due to the fact the vast majority of us drive stick shifts. Basically when you have a manual transmission and a few unfortunates fly past you at a million miles an hour on the motorway with their breaks on fire whilst screaming into a mobile phone it's nice to know it'll never happen to you.

12 August 2010

[quote rodenal]

I agree to an extent, the wording isn't very good.

[/quote] [quote rodenal]

Driver error / inability to handle the situation may have been partly to blame

[/quote] [quote Autocar]

Driver error may have been a cause

[/quote] Autocar said "a" cause, not the cause. Read it again.

12 August 2010

This was about the American politicians bashing a foreign company in favour of their own automotive industry. Nothing more. Same story with BP, even though it was American contractors who were ultimately the ones who screwed up.

Don't be fooled in to believing it's anything else!

12 August 2010

[quote ordinary bloke]Most of them manage to move on to other even more highly paid jobs elsewhere long before the chickens come home to roost. There seems to be some sort of endless perpetual motion escalator in salaries[/quote]

I do realize that I am off-topic, but I am glad that I am not the only lay-person (non-MBA) to be aware that there is a "wage cartel" at large, and it is extremely socially destructive.

Nothing has been learned from the banking crisis, so the banks and the auto-makers will have to be bailed out again, and probably sooner rather than later.

There is no effective democracy: those who are elected to govern know they are soon to be placed on corporate boards and this is where their future and interests lie. "I'm all-right Jack"

...the band was playing Dixie: double-four time...

12 August 2010

[quote theonlydt]One thing not mentioned are the demographics of those crashes. For example there is a much higher proportion of older (70+) drivers involved in "unintended acceleration" for those crashes. Even when you account for the age of Toyota drivers being higher (therefore more oldies in crashes than national average, just because there are more in toyotas) the trend is still that a "sticky accelerator" is far more likely to happen to someone in their 70s... Maybe a lemon sherbet or werthers original slipped down there?[/quote]

Exactly the same problems arose with Audi's unintended acceleration during the eighties. I seem to remember it was the Audi 500, the US version of the 100, with auto gearboxes. There was mass hysteria in the US media but in the end it was old people shoving the gas pedal to the floor thinking it was the brake.

I am at the age now when I will soon be old enough to be a confused old codger, time to get the motorcycle out of the garage and go for a blast.

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