Politicians love to kick a pariah while he’s down. Especially in this economic environment. “Just give us a shared enemy to beat,” they implore.
Well they got one with Toyota, and even more reputation-destroying details are emerging.
In June 2004, the automaker and NHTSA officials discussed a chart showing that Toyota Camrys with new electronic throttles had 400 per cent more complaints regarding “vehicle speed.”
Moreover, according to investigators, Toyota could have seen from its database of consumer calls that floor mats and sticky pedals didn’t explain all the reports of unintended acceleration. Approximately 70 per cent of the sudden unintended acceleration events in Toyota’s customer database involved vehicles that are not subject to recalls.
Are unintended acceleration events simply an unfortunate fact of driving? One wonders if U.S. automakers would be able to survive the level of scrutiny Toyota is being subject to.
Moreover, there are probably bigger fish to fry first. The government so far attributes 34 deaths to acceleration incidents with Toyotas since year 2000. This is tiny in relation to the 43,313 U.S. auto fatalities in 2008 alone, and a complete drop in the bucket relative to the cumulative 383,082 U.S. auto accident deaths from 2000 – 2008. Thus Toyota acceleration accidents account for just 0.0089% of fatalities. As a survivor of a major car accident, we wish Toyota-level scrutiny went into all the other reasons people are injured in accidents — which are one of the most likely causes of death for young Americans.