Toyota And NHTSA Shockingly Slow On Unintended Acceleration Issue

February 1, 2010

It's hard to imagine that Toyota only started to take serious action on reports of its vehicles accelerating uncontrollably after four people in a Lexus ES 350 were killed after the sedan accelerated into an intersection and hit a SUV. When the crash took place on August 28 last year, Toyota had already received more than 2,000 complaints of unintended acceleration and endured multiple government investigations dating back as far as 2002.

To make matters worse, it was only last week that Toyota issued several recalls for the millions of vehicles in the U.S. and overseas that could be defect and halted production.

The question on everyone's lips is why the issue wasn't properly investigated previously and why didn't government agencies like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) act sooner?

Toyota broke one of its major rules by ignoring a smaller problem that eventuated into a much bigger and more serious problem. The NHTSA also has some tough questions to answer up to and so far is citing “limited resources” as the reason the unintended acceleration issue wasn't investigated more deeply.

Now both parties will be the subject of Congressional hearings and Toyota in particular is already feeling the effects of lost sales. The story doesn't end there as both Toyota and the NHTSA will also have to deal with several class-action suits and cases related to individual accidents in the near future.

It will now be interesting to see if Toyota can manage to emerge from the ordeal with its reputation for reliability intact.

[New York Times]

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