It seems everyone knows about the fiasco going on with Toyota cars right now. Several models of Toyota vehicles have a serious design flaw in which the car will spontaneously start accelerating to dangerous speeds, often leading to deadly car accidents. At first, Toyota claimed that this problem was the result of an interfering floor mat, but when the accidents continued to occur in cars where the floormats had been placed safely in the trunk, Toyota was forced to consider that the problem was more serious.
Now, Toyota has announced a massive recall of all the models that have been known to be affected by this problem, so that they can fix the accelerator pedals. Sounds great, right?
Except for the fact that many people, including Injury Board’s own Robert Hillard (who has filed a class-action lawsuit against Toyota in Texas) believe that the problem is electronic, and that fixing the accelerator pedals will do nothing but give drivers a false sense of security. According to Mr. Hillard,
“The problem is not unique to the model, it’s unique to the design of the electronic throttle control system. What happens is there used to be a manual system if you press on the brake, you do not accelerate. But now Toyota has done away with that with the electronic throttle control system-intelligent (ETCS-i). It doesn’t matter if you are on the brake, suddenly you have a runaway car.”
This opinion is also shared by one of the founders of Apple Computers, Steve Wozniak, who has also come out stating that he believes the problem does not involve the accelerator pedal, since he has experienced problems with his Prius while the car was in cruise-control. He argues that, since his foot never touched the accelerator pedal, and yet the car continued to accelerate out of control, that the problem lies somewhere else, probably in the software. So we have at least two very intelligent men making very reasonable arguments as to why the problem isn’t in the accelerator pedal, and that Toyota should keep looking for the real solution to the problem. One of these men, who has significant credentials in the electronics industry, believes that the problem lies with the electronics of the car, and yet Toyota will not listen to his opinion. I only hope that the decision to fix the accelerator pedal, rather than fix the electronics, does not result in any more untimely deaths.