The Toyota Report

February 8, 2011

The review of the Toyota unintended acceleration cases by NHTSA and NASA officials has been released. Watch carefully how different news sources report the same story.

Reuters claims that no defects were found, calling it a “victory” for Toyota.

Bloomberg at least mentions that the report indicates there were mechanical flaws with the vehicles, just not electronic ones.

ABCNews offered a reasonably balanced report, reminding readers of the massive recall and problems with sticking accelerator pedals, gas pedals that became trapped in floor mats, and other safety issues.

CNN notes that Toyota now includes “brake override” 0n all its new vehicles – not just good public relations, but a safety system that would have automatically prevented unwanted acceleration if it had been a standard feature earlier.

The NHTSA and NASA websites have not been updated with the full report.

Ultimately, this is good news for drivers, because many cars, not just those on Toyota vehicles, use electronic throttles – and there is lots of potential electromagnetic interference.

But while the report may be admissible in a court of law, it only rules out, essentially, one potential cause of unintended acceleration; the report does not disprove that there was unintended acceleration in some vehicles caused by other problems. It is not necessarily a consumer’s burden to provide a detailed mechanical explanation of the defect – only that a nonconformity (such as unintended acceleration) existed that was not repaired, or not repaired within a reasonable amount of time.

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