Driver error may be behind Toyota's woes -

Driver error may be behind Toyota’s woes

Initial investigation shows drivers mistakenly floored gas pedals


Initial results from a U.S. Department of Transportation investigation show driver error may be to blame for many of the crashes that have tarnished Toyota’s reputation, reports the Wall Street Journal. The department randomly sampled “black boxes” from vehicles whose drivers claimed their vehicle had accelerated out of control before crashing. The data recorders revealed drivers had accidentally engaged their gas-pedals instead of their brakes. A government-sponsored investigation in 1989 found the same problem after a spate of Audi 5000 drivers claimed they crashed due to faulty breaks. Toyota issued a massive recall in November 2009 to replace floor mats that were interfering with accelerators. The company recalled millions more vehicles in January to replace gas-pedals that “stick” when released by the driver’s foot.

Wall Street Journal

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Driver error may be behind Toyota’s woes

  1. Toyota has always made reliable cars. I strongly believe that they will be vindicated, and this proves that we should give them the benefit of our doubt.

  2. It's not surprising that this explains many of the reported cases – it was already noticeable that they were disproportionately associated with more at-risk drivers.

    However, it can't explain all the cases. The one in which a family accelerated for several minutes while desperately calling 911 and reporting the problem before crashing (fatally) can't have been just a mistaken foot on the gas.

    • Agreed but at least this should help Toyota's reputation.

  3. What a joke. There are a number of accounts recorded on phones where the driver states that they are pressing on the brakes and nothing was happening. People are not so dumb that they press on the accelerator rather than the brake when they need to. Maybe the "black boxes" are faulty too!

    • Maybe the people are faulty.

    • Actually, people who are so dumb as to choose to call 911 instead of putting the car in neutral- it's easily done at any speed- and shutting off the car or applying the parking (emergency) brake, are quite likely to be so dumb as to be pushing on the gas instead of the brake. A simple search of YouTube will find you hundreds of videos of exactly that happening.
      The long and short of it is that there is not a vehicle sold in North America that has more horsepower than brakes. You cannot buy a car that will accelerate from 0-60 in fewer feet than it can stop from 60-0.
      Anyone familiar with the auto industry has known this story had no legs from the get-go. Toyota should have shot their lawyers and let the engineers explain this deal, and it would have been over in 20 minutes. Oh, and the mainstream media should have picked up the phone and called a few automotive journalists. They'd have gotten the story straight at the beginning.

  4. Given that many drivers can not correctly operate a turn signal this is hardly an astounding theory. Brakes have mechanical/hydraulic linkage making phantom failures unlikely to go undetected.
    Technical term would be; driver input error.

  5. Those of us who are…ahem…"mature" enough…will remember the Audi "sudden acceleration" media craze of the '80s.

    This sounds no different.

    Bottom line is that if you really were "standing" on your brakes, you'd "fry" them until the pads wore off and you friction welded the backing plates to the discs. Especially in gutless little cars like the Prius, which probably doesn't have enough torque available in the engine to overcome the braking forces.

    Agree with a previous poster that people who are too stupid to put the car in neutral and/or shut it off are likely the same people who are too stupid to know they're flooring the gas pedal. (Not to mention Toyota owners who decided to gain publicity and/or money by playing along with the story once it hit the media.)

  6. If you read the link, the report says that there were still issues with sticky accelerator pedals & floor mats that held the accelerator down. However, in the majority of the accidents blamed on these issues, the black box didn't record any breaking, but did record a sudden push on the accelerator.

    I doubt the black box would know the difference between the accelerator sticking or being held down by a floor mat, but it still sounds like driver error was more common than mechanical failure.

    However, my condolences to anyone who lost friends or family, regardless of the cause of the accident.