Report: Toyota data suggests driver error

July 13, 2010 6:47:10 PM PDT
The Wall Street Journal is reporting government tests show many drivers may not have been stepping on the brakes as reported, but pushing down on the accelerator when their crashes happened.

In early February, there was mass panic among some Toyota drivers who reported the brakes on their cars didn't work and that Toyota and Lexus models were surging out of control.

The Wall Street Journal reports the U.S. Department of Transportation has analyzed dozens of so-called black boxes in cars and found in each case, the driver was accidently pushing on the accelerator instead of the brake and hasn't uncovered an electronic glitch as some safety experts claimed.

That report doesn't surprise Toyota owner Jerry Witherspoon.

"I've been around cars all my life and that didn't sound like a reasonable cause for the problem," he said.

The findings do not get Toyota off the hook for two known problems blamed for sudden acceleration: sticky accelerator pedals and floormats that can trap the gas pedal. Eight million cars are still under recall by Toyota.

"Letters are still going out to customers and they just bring those in and make an appointment if they haven't gotten a letter and they come in for service. We check every car that comes through," Bob Neitzke from Sunnyvale Toyota said.

Of the 75 fatal crashes blamed on Toyota, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration only traced one of those accidents to a recall issue.

Despite the frenzy of allegations against Toyota, the Sunnyvale dealership says the recalls were needed to reassure the public.

"We did what was asked of us by Toyota and we took care of customers as we would today if there was another concern so we think we did the right thing," Sunnyvale Toyota customer relations Manager Stefanie Modos said.

More than 100 people have sued Toyota claiming their crashes were result of faulty electronics. Official government results are not expected for months.


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