That Would Be "Oops!"


Here’s a wild and amazing bit of news: the Wall Street Journal reports that after a ten-month investigation of the mysterious cases of unintended acceleration reported in Toyota vehicles last year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) (with the help of NASA engineers) has discovered the cause of these events. The vast majority of them were . . . driver error!

Yes, after all the hysteria whipped up by the media and Congress — a hysteria that had the hidden goal of harming Toyota and helping the recently nationalized GM — it turns out that the most common problem by far was that drivers were hitting the accelerator pedal instead of the brakes. Yes, in some cases it was sticking accelerator pedals and improperly cut floor mats that were at fault — and both defects were quickly addressed in a recall by the company — but driver error was the big problem.

In short, Toyota suffered what Audi did many years ago: a media-driven hysteria for something primarily caused by drivers handling their vehicles improperly. In 1986, a number of people sued Audi, claiming that their cars had inexplicably accelerated, despite the brakes being depressed. A wave of prejudicial publicity followed. In the end, however, the NHTSA found that the majority of cases were clearly caused by the drivers pressing the accelerator while thinking they were hitting the brake.

In 2010, leading the charge in bashing Toyota was the Democrat-controlled Congress. Most of the congressmen sitting on the committee that investigated Toyota were recipients of UAW campaign money. Even more out front was DOT head Ray LaHood, who opined at the time that Toyota owners should immediately stop driving their cars.

Questioned about the new report, the now-discredited LaHood got annoyed and refused to use the phrase “driver error.” But he was forced to concede: “We feel that Toyotas are safe to drive.”

This simply will not do. LaHood has been proven unfit for his position. He deliberately hyped a problem the cause of which he was utterly clueless about, scaring the hell out of a lot of consumers, and costing Toyota a fortune in tangible and intangible assets.

If he had even a semblance of dignity, LaHood would resign immediately.

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"The vast majority of them were . . . driver error!"

I'd bet just a bit of honesty (and better data) would show 100% were the result of driver, well, stupidity/cupidity. Claiming to be a victim is so much more pleasing than admitting you stuck your foot on the wrong pedal.
I've wondered why those who took a bath on Audi 5000s couldn't organize a class-action and sue "60 Minutes" off the air; they deserved it.

Ed Burley

At the time the Toyota witch hunt was going on, I commented to some friends that I found it funny how little was done by Congress to address the endless supply of piles of garbage, called automobiles, produced by the Big Three. All those years of poor workmanship, mechanical failure, "planned obsolescence," and a variety of other major problems that destroyed the Big Three's market share.

I'm glad that Toyota has been exonerated. I think that it's executives should sue the media, and make a display in Congress for the loss of revenue. Perhaps it would be enough to put MSNBC and the likes out of business...good riddance!

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