As an injury lawyer, we always try to stay apprised of all national recalls and product safety issues you should know about-especially those involving potential injury or death involving car safety. Unfortunately, safety concerns can be missed in the manufacturing process, sometimes inadvertently at the consumer’s expense. Recently, Toyota had to recall an additional 2.3 million of their vehicles including models from their cars, SUV’s and pick-up trucks. The vehicle manufacturer has acknowledged a serious flaw in their accelerator pedals that could cause untold injury or even death. In fact, they have admitted that the accelerator "sticking" problem is much more pervasive than originally thought.
At one point, Toyota had recalled 4.2 million cars that included some from their Lexus line, so that they could address what they labeled “pedal entrapment” caused from floor mats, according to the company’s spokesperson. However, further recalls have come about due to this “pedal entrapment” being reported from cars without floor mats. This latest development is quite troubling for Toyota and shows that the original fix did not necessarily get to the root of the problem.
Although Toyota is admitting now that perhaps on “rare” occasions the car accelerator pedal may stick in a partially depressed position, Toyota had previously stated that there was no evidence of a mechanical fault linked to sudden bursts of unexpected acceleration that initiated the first recall last year. In fact, as recently as November, Bob Carter, Toyota’s U.S. brand chief, stated that there was no evidence to support claims that the safety complaints could be a result of anything other than loose floor mats getting in the way of the accelerator pedal. This state of denial from Toyota went on for many past years-it now looks like a major stonewalling front that lasted years-stories from consumers were always discounted–"it was simply that you hit the accelerator, and not the brake."
Up to 100 incidents have been cited by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration from Toyota’s last recall. Of those 100 episodes 17 that resulted in crashes and 5 (wrongful) deaths are possibly linked to floor mats and accelerator pedals in this brand’s cars and trucks. There is a well documented case where an owner’s Lexus in San Diego accelerated up to 120 mph before it crashed resulting in the death of four people.
This flagrant mishandling of the car maker’s mechanical flaw in its accelerator pedal serves as a glaring example of how big companies can gloss over numbers and statistical data that may not serve their bottom line profits at the risk of the consumer’s well being and personal safety. In this case, Toyota has stained its reputation as a builder of dependable cars in the U.S. and seems to take safety of it’s customers as a secondary consideration-especially because the consumer reports on this defect spanned years and not months.