Who Watches the Watchmen?
LA Times investigates NHTSA's Toyota, Lexus probes
Looking at federal records, the Times found that more than 1,000 cases of unintended acceleration have been reported, including some that resulted in crashes into trees, brick walls and parked cars. Such crashes have also led to 19 deaths and a multitude of injuries over the past decade.
In a disturbing trend, the Times reports that despite eight separate probes based on owner complaints (what would come from petitions such as this one, which, as we reported, NHTSA dismissed in October), the government habitually dismissed a number of complaints, then shut down investigations for lack of evidence. Per the Times:
NHTSA officials used the exclusions as part of their rationale to close at least five of the investigations without finding any defect, because -- with fewer incidents to consider -- the agency concluded there were not enough reported problems to warrant further inquiry. In a 2003 Lexus probe, for example, the agency threw out all but one of 37 customer complaints cited in a defect petition. It then halted further investigation, saying it "found no data indicating the existence of a defect trend."What's really disturbing here is that Toyota and Lexus have publicly blamed these problems on unsecured or faultily installed floor mats, and yet, as the article notes, several complaints of unintended acceleration were from times when the accelerator was not being used -- such as the case of the man with cruise control on and his foot off the gas pedal, whose car still accelerated to 100 mph. Perhaps that's why the company has said it's looking into a longer-term solution than just replacing floor mats during the recall?
The article is sobering. Do yourself a favor and read the whole thing here.
EXPLORE NEW CARS
MORE ON MSN AUTOS
ABOUT EXHAUST NOTES
Cars are cool, and here at MSN Autos we love everything about them, but we also know they're more than simply speed and style: a car is an essential tool, a much-needed accessory to help you get through your day-to-day life. What you drive is also one of the most important investments you can make, so we'll help you navigate your way through the car buying and ownership experiences. We strive to be your daily destination for news, notes, tips and tricks from across the automotive world. So whether it's through original content from our world-class journalists or the latest buzz from the far corners of the Web, Exhaust Notes helps you make sense of your automotive world.
Have a story idea? Tip us off at firstname.lastname@example.org.