Early Tests Show Some Runaway Toyotas Caused By Driver Error

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week that, according to an anonymous source, preliminary analysis at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that most unintended acceleration incidents involving now-recalled Toyota vehicles were due to driver error.

Is Toyota now totally blameless? Not exactly. According to Toyota’s own tests, the cars’ data recorders show that driver error was to blame in some accidents–specifically, the ones where drivers claimed that they tried to brake, but the car only accelerated.

The problem, of course, is that the information in the data recorder comes from the very computer system that may be responsible for the failures in the first place.

“You can’t ignore the fact that when they move to an electronic throttle control you basically see a fourfold increase in complaints,” [a safety consultant to Toyota] said. He also said the event data recorders rely “on the same sensing system that is unable to detect the failure to begin with,” and is therefore not “an independent witness.”

Tests and data analysis will continue. The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and NASA are now part of the federal government’s investigation, because this issue clearly requires actual rocket scientists.

Analysis finds drivers did not apply brakes in runaway Toyotas [Consumer Reports]
Early Tests Pin Toyota Accidents on Drivers [Wall Street Journal]
Toyota Concedes 2 Flaws Caused Loss of Control [New York Times]

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  1. Snoofin says:

    Of course the tests showed people floored their cars on purpose. People love to sue and get “free money” I knew as soon as they mentioned that there was a rare problem that the problem would all of a sudden become widespread.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      And also, some of the people were elderly, and some of the people were confused by their surroundings, and not totally in touch with reality – what are they going to do, admit they drove into a storefront? No, they’re going to blame the recall because they want to save face.

      • grizz says:

        I think I read something like that awhile ago. An article/blog pointed out that the average age of all the drivers was 65 or so.

      • Jeff_Number_3 says:

        I’m pretty sure that if we look back and examine past incidents with this new evidence, we’ll find that it was really Toyota executives pushing the cars of the elderly into the farmers market.

        And the driver in the news the other day for ramming into a licquor for the second time? Turns out there was an aftermarket Toyota ‘random-accelerator’ in there.

      • Big Mama Pain says:

        Yeah, there is/was (?) a guy trying to get out of prison now because he’s in for vehicular manslaughter, and now claims that his Toyota was to blame. Never saw any followup on it after reading that he was asking for a new trial.

        • Difdi says:

          Yes, in that case the guy was driving a Toyota, when it rammed a family’s car, killing them. Thing is, he claimed as his defense at his trial that he was standing on the brake pedal, but the car kept accelerating anyway. The jury didn’t believe it was possible for a car to do that, so they convicted him. And then, many months later, an issue with Toyotas comes to light, that causes exactly the acceleration behavior he claimed as a defense long before.

          I’m not saying he’s innocent, but it does tend to look that way, given the facts of the case.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Did you read that the device used to determine what caused the accident was itself faulty?

  2. DarthCoven says:

    Say it aint so!!

  3. ColHapablap says:

    In other news, the fox has no idea where all the hens went while he was keeping watch, and suggests they may have just wandered off on their own accord.

    • Daverson says:

      Accords are made by Honda, so your entire premise falls apart.

    • psm321 says:

      excellent analogy :)

    • BlisteringSilence says:

      Just like it did with the Audi cluster of “unintended acceleration,” and the GM cluster of “unintended acceleration,” right?

      http://dailycaller.com/2010/03/15/walter-olson-toyota-is-audi-all-over-again/

      How about this:

      1. Old people don’t drive as well as young people.
      2. This is America, where we assign blame instead of taking responsibility.
      3. While all the hysteria was going on, why would you admit that you hit the gas instead of the brake if you could just blame it on the car instead?
      4. The average age of a driver in the US is 34.
      5. The average age of a driver with the unintended acceleration issue is 54.
      6. The average age of a driver who dies in an auto wreck is 24.
      7. The average age of a driver who dies from unintended acceleration in an auto wreck is 65.

      I realize correlation != causation, but come on. Time to put down the tinfoil hat.

      • Jeff_Number_3 says:

        Insurance rates usually disagree with number 1…. but I’m not sure what elderly pay or car insurance. Does anyone have info on average rates of 24-34 vs 55+?

        • BlisteringSilence says:

          That’s not how insurance rates are calculated. The single biggest risk factor for an insurance company is your driving record, followed by how many miles a year you drive. Age is like 4 or 5. Your record gives them an idea of how bad a driver you are. How many miles a year you drive lets them know how likely it is that you will be hit by another bad driver.

          And old people will have lower rates than a 21 year old, to be sure. But they also drive 1/4 to 1/5 the miles of that 21 year old too.

      • csmith says:

        6. The average age of a driver who dies in an auto wreck is 24.
        7. The average age of a driver who dies from unintended acceleration in an auto wreck is 65.

        So what you’re saying is that the Toyota issue is predominately affecting a group of people who DON’T usually get into accidents?

  4. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    Please. That is like saying that you can’t trust the black box data because it’s in the same plane that crashed. A recorder does just that, it records. It doesn’t think, computer, etc… It’s more than likely on a separate power supply/line, has ROM firmware, and runs self diagnostics. It records X many times a second, so it would be easy to see if throttle position goes from 3% to 100% in a fraction of a second. Even IF you want to say that the throttle sensor is wrong, it also records the brake position, the relative speed, etc… Even in planes, when some data gets damaged, other data can supply information that will fill in, or interpolate the missing data.

    • ColHapablap says:

      “He also said the event data recorders rely “on the same sensing system that is unable to detect the failure to begin with,” and is therefore not “an independent witness.””

      Also, airplanes != cars.

      • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

        And we know that the anonymous source is an expert?

        And do you think that car makers don’t use systems similar/related to data recorders on planes? Why invent a new system when you can use a system already in place and very reliable and survivable.

        • ktetch says:

          Did you pay for the photo-plate change when the mechanic told you the blinker-fluid was low?

        • Geekybiker says:

          Because the airline system is mostly likely way too expensive for cars in the consumer market. Most of the crash logging grew out of the OBD2 standard, which is of course designed to help find emissions faults. They added recording of a couple more channels and poof you have a crash recorder for car. Not nearly the same design standard as airplanes I’m sure.

        • ColHapablap says:

          “Anonymous source”, “a safety consultant to Toyota”*. Whichever.

          *Actually, “the president of Safety Research and Strategies, a Massachusetts consulting firm that is working with lawyers suing Toyota”, to be exact. Which, granted, doesn’t really put him in Toyota’s corner.

        • suez says:

          Proprietary rights? Some places chose to reinvent the wheel rather than pay royalties to another firm.

    • Nidoking says:

      And if there’s an error in your keyboard that swaps the signals for the X and Y keys, then the software recording your keystrokes is going to say that you pressed X even though you were pressing Y the whole time. If the problem is “driver pressed the brake, but the signal for the accelerator was sent”, then whatever’s recording those signals will be recording the incorrect signals. Recording programs have to trust their inputs. If the inputs are already incorrect before they get to the recorder, the data are meaningless.

      • Jeff_Number_3 says:

        And if X and Y only get swapped when I’m using “Super Note-Taker Pro (Totally-not-spyware 2k version)” and I see my text gets swapped there but the USB keystroke logger shows that I’m hitting the correct buttons………………

        Clearly the recorder can’t be trusted, since the input is magically zapped from the keyboard directly to the screen and not processed by any other systems on it’s way there

    • IThinkThereforeIAm says:

      No, it really just means that the recording device PROBABLY records the same (possibly faulty or incorrect) signals that the computer used to accelerate the vehicle. It does not necessarily record the actual operation of the driver, just what the car “thought” the operator did.
      That said, I still believe that some (or most) of the reports were operator errors who just wanted to place to blame somewhere else.

      • TouchMyMonkey says:

        One would hope so. The only way you’re going to figure out a software problem, assuming that’s what it is, is to look at the logs and see what was recorded there. That’s how we software engineers roll.

  5. Fair&Balanced says:

    So those that lied will be going to jail or paying Toyota millions in damages, right?

    It was so obvious this was the case from the begining, especially when they came out with the shims that did nothing but make it seem like they fixed the non-issue.

    • bonzombiekitty says:

      I doubt toyota would have a case against those people unless Toyota could show that the people in question knew they had stepped on the gas instead of the brake.

      It really doesn’t surprise me that the data shows what it shows. People stepping on the slamming on the gas instead of the brake is not a new phenomena. The next town over from the town I grew up in has a large retirement community. It seems that a retiree slamming on the gas instead of the brake and running into a building is a near yearly occurrence. A hot dog stand in the town had to put up extra barriers around the picnic tables after that happened to them twice in one year. I remember when a car ran into the grocery store I worked at, all day I heard people saying “let me guess, another old person slamming on the gas instead of the brake”.

      • johnva says:

        On the other hand, there have been successful lawsuits against media organizations over irresponsible reporting that ignored the facts. It’s conceivable that Toyota might have a libel case against some of the news media. But whether that would be possible depends on the details of the reporting, so I have no idea whether they would or not. It also might be a bad PR move, so it’s doubtful they would actually go for it even if they had a case.

  6. waffles says:

    Well, anecdotal evidence from my friends and me says that as a general rule, if someone is driving poorly they’re driving a Toyota.

    • pantheonoutcast says:

      My own observations have led to the conclusion that Buick drivers are the worst drivers in the universe.

      • HillSA23 says:

        The police in Wisconsin have an internal code they use to identify those who are, in their opinion, the worst drivers on the road. They call that code “DWA” — Driving While Asian.

        No offense intended, but much offense will probably be taken, female Asian drivers are the worst on the road regardless of car (anecdotally supported by myself and those around me). =P

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          Hey, I’m a great driver!

        • johnva says:

          I know some Asians who are among the worst drivers I know, but it’s invariably because they are new immigrants to the U.S. and aren’t yet experienced drivers. I doubt that there is any correlation with race and driving ability that can’t be explained by other underlying factors such as years of driving experience.

      • Sian says:

        Followed closely however by Lexus drivers.

    • benh999 says:

      Given Toyota’s market share, if someone was driving, they were probably driving a Toyota.

  7. TouchMyMonkey says:

    So what they’re trying to suggest in the box is that because the log files are on the same computer as the throttle software, you can’t trust the logs, either. Horsehockey! That’s the kind of bullshit people come up with who are grasping at straws to bolster an argument that is falling apart at the seams.

    Unless the brakes didn’t work at all, I have a hard time believing that you can just drive through a storefront window while jamming on the brakes as hard as you can. While the throttle system might be electronic, the braking system, unless Toyota has invented some kind of electric power brakes that weren’t in the brochure or the sticker when I bought my wife’s Corolla (and if there’s anyone who can make a perfectly good computer system fail, it’s my better half), is still hydraulic. I just don’t buy it.

    • erinpac says:

      No, they are saying the same data is going to the throttle/break as is going to the recorder. If that data is wrong, both will be wrong.
      IE. If some malfunction tells the computer you are pressing throttle not break, then it will both speed up AND record “throttle”. If some other part of the car broke and it operated the throttle while getting the signal for break, THEN the recording would show that. It depends where the problem was, IF there is a problem.
      So, the test is just saying the car did not see a break signal. That probably means driver error. There’s a chance that could also mean it didn’t send any signal when the break was pushed.

      It’s like recording your monitor and then going, well I didn’t see any X’s show up, so you didn’t press X. Well, perhaps – that’s likely, and certainly I didn’t complete any documents with X’s and the computer didn’t do anything with X’s… but if the keyboard is broken, I certainly could have pushed the button and your recording wouldn’t know. Doesn’t matter where the recording is – just what input it is really getting. If it’s recording the screen, not the keyboard it is not telling you what you typed – it’s telling you what the computer thinks you typed.

      • Zini says:

        Yes but i think what he is trying to say is that if you are holding down your brake your still braking since car brakes are hydraulic unlike the throttle. So if we use your example the situation should be something like this

        x = brake
        y = gas

        if the computer is registering the opposite then when you hit the brake (x) your brakes will still work since they are analog and not controlled by the computer but the computer will open the throttle as well so its like holding down the brakes and gas at the same time and when you hit gas (y) then the computer will think your braking and do nothing since it cant control the brake and the car should just cost. the computer could also just think that everything is “y”

        i think a big point is that if your at a stand still and your gas opens up all the yeah but you have the brake pressed in your not going to go anywhere fast.

        • erinpac says:

          Aren’t the models concerned brake by wire? I thought that was half the reason they were worried – unless more got added that were not?

          If so, no the brakes aren’t electronic – but the system controlling it is.

          I’m not saying it is likely that the test is wrong – I’m saying that they are right to indicate the possible fault *even with this test* and check that before making any conclusion.

          • Difdi says:

            As far as I can remember, yes, those models are brake-by-wire. Stepping on the brake pedal doesn’t actually do anything but press a button that sends a “brake now” to the computer. If the computer has gotten a glitch that reads all inputs as “floor it”, and it has a recorder that records what commands the computer processes, then the recorder will show all inputs as having been “floor it”.

    • James says:

      The brakes may not work at all.

      The brakes are helped by the vacuum assist. If the car is going at wide open throttle, then you have one, maybe two good chances to brake with ‘normal’ brakes. Most of the car magazine/websites were trying full throttle to a predetermined speed, stomp on brakes. They didn’t try a second or third attempted slam on the brakes during the same run.

      Then depending on the car, brakes, etc you may have a brake pedal that feels like lead and will work with lots of effort or no effective brakes at all.

      It may be user error, but I’m not sure that Toyota isn’t to blame either.

      James

  8. FiorellaMajumdar says:

    “The computer told us the driver was wrong, so this isn’t our problem” seems to be the point of this story. The problem is our complete and unquestioning reliance on technology, when that technology is merely programmed by some other human.

    • rushevents says:

      No – the point of the story is that the whole toyota panic thing was a non-story to begin with. If it had happened the day the Oil well blew we would have never heard about it again.

      It’s not a pass to toyota or a just an indictment against drivers – no it’s a reminder that the media will create panics to get ratings during a slow news cycle.

    • jefeloco says:

      “The problem is our complete and unquestioning reliance on technology, when that technology is merely programmed by some other human.”

      The real problem for people claiming unintended acceleration is history. From the days of the first automatics transmissions there have been people claiming UA. The demographics show the elderly as the main sources of UA; most witnesses will tell you that an engine was racing yet no brake lights were on; there has never been a properly documented claim of UA in a manual transmission car.

      History tells us as well (as is also pointed out in the WSJ article) that in the last major rash of UA, against Audi and their infamous close-pedaled 5000, that the claims were a bunch of crap. People panic, your IQ drops 130 points and you will have no clue which pedal you’re standing on.

      I hate to mention this as well but Laura seemed to be going for the 20/20 version of the story here, using debunked evidence to cloud up the most recent reports and cast further doubts.

      • Difdi says:

        So, you’re saying that because it’s been proven to be driver error in the past, using entirely different hardware with mechanical linkages, that it can’t possibly be anything but driver error now, even though the hardware in question is wholly different and controlled by a computer that can theoretically override the driver, due to the lack of mechanical linkages?

        Right, pull the other one. It doesn’t have bells on, but I have this nifty computerized beeper…

  9. rushevents says:

    The word of the day is “Duh”.

    Are we really surprised that people can’t drive very well?

    • johnva says:

      That’s what I never got about the whole hysteria: people freak out over some sort of perceived rare safety problem with a vehicle, but do little to address the much larger safety threat of their own incompetent driving. Is this just a case of everyone thinking that they are above average? Or does a mechanical problem just seem more threatening because it’s an “external” threat rather an “internal” one, and people fear the loss of control more than the things that real data shows are the most likely causes of them getting hurt or killed in a car accident?

      I’m so tired of so many people just blundering through life based on emotional reasoning. It’s no wonder fraudulent advertising and political propaganda is so prevalent in our society if people don’t even stop to think skeptically about what they’re hearing.

      • Difdi says:

        Funny thing. Competence isn’t a single trait, but a whole collection of them, and you must possess them all to be competent. One of those traits is the ability to accurately judge competence in oneself and in others. So expecting incompetent people to realize it is futile.

  10. danstirling2000 says:

    I think it is time for Consumer Reports to return to recommending the Toyotas it had put on hold. The lack of incidents is sufficient proof that there is no danger from runaway acceleration, and that those that did occur were likely driver error. I always return to the one officer who died, along with 3 family members, last August, but that incident has been officially tied to the floor mat being stuck under the gas pedal which is a potential problem for any car. That car, by the way, was a Lexus (yes, a clone of the Camry), and Lexus has not been subject to the same actions by Consumer Reports.

  11. nbs2 says:

    So in those earlier stories, it was appropriate to blame the OP?

    • syzygy says:

      It’s never OK to blame the OP. Blame the OP’s parents for never teaching them how to drive correctly, and that it’s OK to lie about whether you accidentally stood on the gas as you crashed into the 7-11.

  12. leprechaunshawn says:

    And how much money did the NHTSA spend to prove what many of us thought all along? Maybe in an effort to recoup some of their lost earnings, Toyota should now go after anybody who went on the news claiming “unintended acceleration” that turns out to just be a bad driver.

  13. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    So you tell us most accidents weren’t Toyota’s fault

    [insert massive “I told you so” comment]

    And then few actually read the asterisk statement that the tool used to determine that statement was faulty to begin with.

    Misleading article title?

    • ChemicalFyre says:

      Toyota, we don’t blame you at all***

      *** Disclaimer: We, referring to posthumous and unknown samples.

    • DingoAndTheBaby says:

      If you read several of the comments posted prior to yours, you’ll see a lot of discussion that recording the actions of a vehicle is not necessarily related to a potentially faulty processor that may have been causing unintended acceleration.

      Essentially, it’s like saying that because Microsoft Windows or Apple OSX is having problems (say, for instance, your mail program won’t open), that your mouse is also faulty. That’s not necessarily, if at all, true. Your mouse will still work fine within the OS, but a specific application within the OS is being prick-ish. Same instance here, where the mouse is analogous to the recording aspect of the onboard computer, and the hiccup-prone mail application is the unintended acceleration – or whatever’s causing it.

  14. pz says:

    Aye, like others say, this is IF we can trust the data coming _from_ the car’s computer into the data recorder.

    As far as I’m concerned, you can’t.

    • erinpac says:

      Well, it seems likely that the computer is right. But, no, in this design you can’t trust it completely, so it should be verified through another process of some sort.

    • npage148 says:

      It’s really convenient to disregard all the data you don’t agree with to maintain your opinion.

    • BlisteringSilence says:

      All I have for you is this:

      http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128490874

      Since you’re more than likely not going to read TFA, let me sum it up for you:

      “In a series of studies in 2005 and 2006, researchers at the University of Michigan found that misinformed people, particularly political partisans, rarely changed their minds when exposed to corrected facts in news stories. In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs. Facts, they found, were not curing misinformation. Like an underpowered antibiotic, facts could actually make misinformation even stronger.”

      • Sian says:

        Jeezus it’s just like homeopathy!

      • pz says:

        Thank you — that’s very cute, and proves that you can read.

        Please tell me what part of the NHTSA test dealt with verifying the source-code behind the Toyota’s engine computers to verify that the data it was sending accurately and consistently showed what was happening the car at that time.

        Or, you know, you can just RTFA up above:

        “You can’t ignore the fact that when they move to an electronic throttle control you basically see a fourfold increase in complaints,” [a safety consultant to Toyota] said. He also said the event data recorders rely “on the same sensing system that is unable to detect the failure to begin with,” and is therefore not “an independent witness.”

        • BlisteringSilence says:

          Wow, if you’re not a sneaky weasel, I don’t know what one is.

          What you wrote:

          “You can’t ignore the fact that when they move to an electronic throttle control you basically see a fourfold increase in complaints,” [a safety consultant to Toyota] said. He also said the event data recorders rely “on the same sensing system that is unable to detect the failure to begin with,” and is therefore not “an independent witness.”

          That “safety consultant to Toyota” you’re referring to? He’s not a “safety consultant to Toyota.” He works for a plaintiff’s law firm that is suing Toyota. He has a vested financial interest in Toyota being at fault.

          And that 4-fold increase in complaints he refers to? It started after the media hype got revved up, and disappeared after the media quit reporting on the story.

          See here:
          http://sg.wsj.net/public/resources/images/P1-AW224_DRIVER_NS_20100713184815.gif

          Sorry there sweet cheeks. As it turns out, not only can I read, but I have this awesome analytical bullshit detector. It’s been fine tuned from years of hearing BS.

          It’s time to put down the anti-corporation picket signs, hang up the hippie beads, and realize that this “story” is a non-story, and that the only people who benefited from it were the new media and the trial lawyers.

          Again.

  15. josephpr says:

    Didn’t we go through this with Audi a number of years ago? When I looked into that for a school assignment a while back, some of the people who “weren’t stepping on the gas” finally fessed up.

    And I did hear on the radio the other day that some of the most serious Toyota incidents were in fact, due to the floor mat issue.

    • erinpac says:

      Tons of user error cases with multiple brands…

      but Mercedes had issues with a break system similar to the Prius’ and took it out.

      Media storm is out of proportion though – Toyota has been villianized far more.

      • johnva says:

        Yeah, this kind of car safety paranoia bubbles up regarding all kinds of car brands from time to time. The media was the difference: for some reason they ALL decided to seize on this one, despite the almost complete lack of supporting evidence beyond anecdotal self-reports from drivers who were directly involved. I would hope that this would teach some people a lesson about believing what they see on TV, and thinking more critically about things they see reported, but it won’t. People are too lazy to actually engage their brains when an authority figure like the TV box is telling them otherwise.

    • veronykah says:

      They did a story on Toyota on NPR yesterday and one of the people they interviewed mentioned the Audi thing too.

      http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128519779

  16. bhr says:

    Wow. That is a completely unbiased report there. The NTSA report basically says that there was ONE incident where the car was to blame.

  17. Jeff_Number_3 says:

    I read a statistical analysis of this a while ago (back when this was in the news everyday) that checked the age of the driver against the number of incidents. It found that the 50+ age group was so massively over-represented that was it was EXTREMELY unlikely that they were caused by the computer accelerating out of control.

    First time posting a link, not sure if it will work or not…
    http://www.businessinsider.com/a-deep-dive-into-toyota-sudden-acceleration-accident-stats-2010-3

  18. I. Harldee Nower says:

    I’ll be bold: there is no production car sold in America that has enough engine power to overpower the brakes. Period.

    Therefore, all claims of unintended acceleration are merely driver error, the error being a failure to stomp on the brake pedal.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      MOSTLY correct. If you let off the brakes, even for a fraction of a second, your brakes can no longer stop your car, as shown in a video I can’t find right now, but I will continue to search for.

      • johnva says:

        You mean permanently (ie, brakes are fried by the initial braking effort) or just that people need to keep their foot down the whole time?

        It seems pretty simple to me. If your car accelerates out of control mysteriously, simply stomp and hold the brake until you come to a stop, and then kill the ignition. What’s so hard about that? Shifting to neutral would also work.

        So we are supposed to believe that a) the cars accelerated out of control without the driver having their foot on the gas at all, b) the brakes were not able to stop the engine, c) the transmission simultaneously failed, rendering it impossible to shift out of gear? It seems like a far more parsimonious explanation to just say that most of these incidents were likely caused by people confusing the brake and the accelerator. I’ve even done that a few times for a brief second when I put my foot down in the wrong place. But it’s so obvious that that’s what’s happening if you do that any competent driver should figure it out nearly immediately. Much less in the time necessary to call the cops and report that you’re out of control.

        Yet another reason why I find the incidents with the people on the cellphone with the police while their car was supposedly accelerating out of control to be total bullshit.

        • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

          It was that if you hit and applied the brake full on, the car would stop. However, if you let up just a little, and tried reapplying, the car would only slow down to a lesser degree, but not fully stop. The more you tried hitting it, the worse it got. In most panic situations, people press the brake, then lift and press again, almost as if they are poking the brake to remind it to apply. I wish i could find the damn video, but I can’t. It had to do with when you let up and reapply, you release some of the pressure the system uses to help you mash on the brakes. This pressure can’t be recharged fast enough, so even if you mash it down, it can’t apply the same amount of pressure it did before. It’s like when you use a compressor and unplug it. There is a air charge in the tank, but the more time you use it, the lower it gets.

  19. c!tizen says:

    “Early Tests Show Some Runaway Toyotas Caused By Driver Error” … in choosing to drive a Toyota.

  20. nosense22 says:
  21. Winteridge2 says:

    I loved the “Ya Gotta Put Mercury On Your List!” ads just before they were discontinued. Maybe we should put Toyota on that list?

  22. johnva says:

    I said that this was going to be the case pretty much from the beginning. It was fairly obvious that if there is indeed any minor problem, it’s something that’s extremely rare and not even close to warranting the number of reports and the volume of media coverage.

    I also recall being fairly heavily attacked by many posters on this very site just a few months back for even suggesting that I thought this was overblown and probably mainly due to confirmation bias by drivers. I’m sorry that some of you bought what the media sensationalism was pushing hook, line, and sinker, but hopefully you’ll learn something valuable about skepticism from this incident.

  23. erinpac says:

    Interestingly, while now others are saying the recorders may be flawed, Toyota has argued in court multiple times that the recorders are “developing” and could not be relied on – that they are just some extra information, when that’s in their favor.

    Still likely mostly user error, but it’s a valid point.

  24. johnva says:

    Also, I’d be interested to know whether Consumer Reports and/or Consumerist are considering issuing some retractions over their own breathless and biased reporting on this issue. Story after story was published here basically just discussing the defects as if it were a given that this was a true flaw in the cars. Some of the stories were more skeptical and balanced, but there was a lot of use of Toyota as “snark fodder” by various editors here, and at the very least they should be a little sheepish about that.

    I don’t mean to suggest that the truth of this issue is completely resolved: it isn’t. But CR’s participation in making baseless allegations has damaged their credibility for me much more than it damaged Toyota’s, in mind. If the evidence is not all in, and the anecdotes contradict basic logic, perhaps a little more editorial restraint would be in order.

  25. BlisteringSilence says:

    Wow, if you’re not a sneaky weasel, I don’t know what one is.

    What you wrote:

    “You can’t ignore the fact that when they move to an electronic throttle control you basically see a fourfold increase in complaints,” [a safety consultant to Toyota] said. He also said the event data recorders rely “on the same sensing system that is unable to detect the failure to begin with,” and is therefore not “an independent witness.”

    That “safety consultant to Toyota” you’re referring to? He’s not a “safety consultant to Toyota.” He works for a plaintiff’s law firm that is suing Toyota. He has a vested financial interest in Toyota being at fault.

    And that 4-fold increase in complaints he refers to? It started after the media hype got revved up, and disappeared after the media quit reporting on the story.

    See here:
    http://sg.wsj.net/public/resources/images/P1-AW224_DRIVER_NS_20100713184815.gif

    Sorry there sweet cheeks. As it turns out, not only can I read, but I have this awesome analytical bullshit detector. It’s been fine tuned from years of hearing BS.

    It’s time to put down the anti-corporation picket signs, hang up the hippie beads, and realize that this “story” is a non-story, and that the only people who benefited from it were the new media and the trial lawyers.

    Again.

  26. BlisteringSilence says:

    Wow, if you’re not a sneaky weasel, I don’t know what one is.

    What you wrote:

    “You can’t ignore the fact that when they move to an electronic throttle control you basically see a fourfold increase in complaints,” [a safety consultant to Toyota] said. He also said the event data recorders rely “on the same sensing system that is unable to detect the failure to begin with,” and is therefore not “an independent witness.”

    That “safety consultant to Toyota” you’re referring to? He’s not a “safety consultant to Toyota.” He works for a plaintiff’s law firm that is suing Toyota. He has a vested financial interest in Toyota being at fault.

    And that 4-fold increase in complaints he refers to? It started after the media hype got revved up, and disappeared after the media quit reporting on the story.

    See here:
    http://sg.wsj.net/public/resources/images/P1-AW224_DRIVER_NS_20100713184815.gif

    Sorry there sweet cheeks. As it turns out, not only can I read, but I have this awesome analytical bullshit detector. It’s been fine tuned from years of hearing BS.

    It’s time to put down the anti-corporation picket signs, hang up the hippie beads, and realize that this “story” is a non-story, and that the only people who benefited from it were the new media and the trial lawyers.

    Again.

  27. TuxedoCartman says:

    I remember reading a story about a lady whose Toyota went accelerating out of control in her church parking lot, across the lawn, and into a wall. She claimed that she applied the brakes, applied the emergency brake, and shifted the car into neutral… all in the amount of time to cross a church parking lot?!

    That was the first solid indicator in my opinion that some people were fibbing.

  28. LaziestManOnMars says:

    In the 1980’s Audi went through something similar, with what was called “unintentional acceleration” on their 5000 and (i believe) the 4000’s. Audi got tons and tons of bad press, and they spent MILLIONS trying to figure out what was causing this, as it was only the cars in the US that were experiencing the problem. It was impossible to replicate, and it confounded the Audi/VW engineers. Eventually, they figured out that in America, we have big feet. The gas pedal was too close to the brake for our big American shoes, causing the driver to hit both when trying to brake.

  29. one swell foop says:
  30. common_sense84 says:

    I love how even with proof that consumer reports lied to customers, rather than admit it, they are saying this is only for “some” cases.

    There has never been any instance of acceleration that was not driver error.

    Consumer reports can’t be trusted if they report hype as fact. They never should have said this issue was real or had reported it like they did.

  31. Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

    Not to sound like a conspiracy theorist or anything, but does anyone else find it suspicious that Toyota was kicking everyone’s ass with the Prius while GM, Ford and Chrysler were all sucking hind tit. Then all of a sudden Toyota starts having problems.

    Could there be some kind of behind-closed-doors tomfoolery going on by the auto companies and/or oil companies to try and balance market share and/or steer people away from fuel-efficient hybrids? Yes, I know there’s alleged evidence that Toyota knew about sticking pedals and all, but the timing just seems very suspect to me.

  32. Tiandli says:

    Then driver error shouldn’t occur only in Toyotas. There should be reports of “unintended acceleration” for all cars regardless of make or model.

    Try again Toyota.