The electronic systems of Toyota and Lexus vehicles are not causing sudden acceleration car crashes. That was the conclusion of a ten-month-long investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The conclusion of this investigation changed none of the previous conclusions that floor mats and sticky accelerator pedals have been causing sudden acceleration car accidents, though.
Toyota has already recalled more than eleven million Toyota and Lexus vehicles around the world because of the floor mats and sticky accelerator pedals.
The car company has also paid nearly fifty million dollars in fines for its inappropriate response to the initial reports of sudden acceleration problems with its vehicles.
The NHTSA brought in Michael T. Kirsch, an engineer from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Engineering and Safety Center, to conduct its investigation.
"It's very difficult to prove a negative," Mr. Kirsch said. But the conclusion was that the electronic systems were sound. A failure of the electronic system for throttle controls in Toyotas would require two separate sensors to fail simultaneously, and do so in such a way that neither created an "error code" in the vehicle's onboard computer.
The researchers, who had access to Toyota's designs, engineering and warranty data, found that it was rare for even one sensor to fail.
Toyota has claimed all along that many sudden acceleration accidents are caused by drivers pushing the wrong pedal. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood acknowledged this possibility when announcing the results of the electronic system investigation. He said that the NHTSA would also investigate whether brake and accelerator pedal design and placement could be improved to prevent "pedal misapplications."
This tone from Mr. LaHood was in contrast to harsh comments in the past about Toyota's conduct.
Miami auto accident attorneys note that the NHTSA's conclusion may not be the last word on Toyota's electronic systems. They also note again that the recently concluded investigation changed none of the previous conclusions about Toyota's faulty floor mats and sticky accelerator pedals.
Source: New York Times "Electronic Flaws Did Not Cause Toyota Problems, U.S. Says" 2/9/2011