NHTSA: Driver Error Caused Toyota Crashes
US Department of Transportation Finds Driver Error Caused Crashes as Toyota Recall Investigation Continues
After analyzing data recorders from Toyotas involved in crashes blamed on faulty accelerators, the US National Highway Transit Safety Administration found that the vehicles' brakes were not engaged, and that the throttles were wide open. This means that, at the times of the crashes, the drivers of those Toyotas were not trying to stop, and were indeed accelerating or maintaing speed.
So, the drivers were either accelerating while unaware that they were about to crash into something, or were stomping the wrong pedal when trying to stop. The Toyota recall affected models worldwide and dragged the automaker's reputation into the mud.
- Toyota Recall: Eight Models Pulled Over Accelerator Pedal
- 2010 Toyota Recall Update: Recalls.gov Info
- Toyota Recalls Vehicles Due to Sticky Gas Pedal
- Toyota Recall September 2009: 3.8 Million Cars Affected
While this doesn't dismiss the Toyota manufacturing defects as bogus, it sheds new light on exactly how many accidents these defects actually caused. The defects, while real and demonstrable, were falsely blamed for many accidents that were caused by driver error.
To clarify, these data recorders were chosen and tested by the NHTSA, and not by Toyota.
The findings by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration involve a sample of reports in which a driver of a Toyota vehicle said the brakes were depressed but failed to stop the car from accelerating and ultimately crashing.
A NHTSA spokeswoman declined to confirm the findings.
Out of the 75 fatal crashes blamed on faulty accelerators, the National Highway Traffic Safety Board could only verify that one was caused by a defect in the vehicle.
The findings are dicey terrain for Toyota and Transportation Department officials. Neither wants to be seen as blaming drivers for accidents that have caused injuries or cost lives.
Be that as it may, it is important for all concerned to see this issue through clear eyes: if driver error caused a fatal crash, there's no real upside to anyone in blaming other factors.