On July 13, 2010 the Wall Street Journal broke a story indicating that after analyzing many Toyota data recorders, the U.S. Department of Transportation has found that the throttles were wide open, but the brakes were not pushed at the time of the crash. This would indicate that driver error, not auto defect, is responsible for the vast majority of the Toyota crashes. It should be noted that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has not confirmed this report and says that final conclusions are months away.
The WSJ report implies that Toyota drivers panicked, pushing the accelerator, thinking it was the brake. This, of course, would be the making of a horrific crash. It may be that the pedal got caught up in the floor mat (which Toyota has since corrected) causing the initial panic situation.
In my February 14, 2010 blog titled “General Motors is now Toyota’s Regulator”, I expressed the potential conflict of interest in having the Federal Government investigate Toyota. I said at the time:
“Toyota has recently experienced quality issues due to rapid acceleration with many of its cars and brake problems with the Prius hybrid. This has resulted in massive product recalls and a freeze of new car sales until accelerator pedals can be fixed, costing Toyota hundreds of millions of dollars. I’m convinced that Toyota’s quality problems are legitimate; my problem is the fact that the US Government, which owns General Motors, is now investigating Toyota. This represents a gigantic conflict of interest.”
Now that “leaks” from people familiar with the NHTSA investigation have surfaced in the Wall Street Journal, it will be interesting to see how the NHTSA officially responds. If the NHTSA rules that driver error was responsible, I’ll have to give Government investigators an “A” for integrity. If the NHTAS rules that there was an equipment defect and drivers were not to blame, I’ll remain suspicious that politics over-ruled science.
In any case, isn’t it interesting that the predominately liberal “mainstream” media has been so quiet about the WSJ story? After all, they whipped up the Toyota recalls into a giant storm when they had a chance to prey on Toyota’s Asian, non-union owners. What better way to boost sales for Government Motors! Stories are now surfacing that the entire WSJ article was “planted” at the Journal by Toyota’s public relations department!
We’ll see how this drama plays out in the months to come. One thing is for sure; someone is going to be eating crow when this thing is over.