• Feb 5th 2010 at 11:28AM
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The more we learn about Toyota's rumored relationship with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the less we like it. Remember the claim that the government agency may have known about unintended acceleration issues as early as 2004? ABC News does, and the news network has been doing its best Sherlock Holmes work in an effort to learn more about the potentially damaging claims.
The ABC News investigation revealed that NHTSA wrote a memorandum limiting unintended acceleration claims to episodes lasting two seconds or less when the brake was never applied. The report states that the memorandum came down after agency representative Scott Yon met with two former colleagues (including Chris Santucci) who left the government to work for Toyota. Santucci testified back in December that the limited scope of investigations "worked out well for both the agency and Toyota."

Also in question is whether federal safety investigators are included in a federal law that states that "an employee in the executive branch is barred for two years after leaving government service from representing any matter under the employee's previous official responsibility." Santucci left his job at NHTSA six months before he reportedly negotiated the terms of the investigation with his ex-colleagues.

According to ABC News, the limited scope of the investigations ruled out 26 of the original 37 claims of unintended acceleration. A reported 25 of those 26 incidents led to an accident or crash, and since those incidents were outside of the scope of the investigations, NHTSA never looked into the incidents. Sean Kane of Safety Research & Strategies told ABC News that the narrow scope of the investigation meant "NHTSA almost ensured they wouldn't have enough complaint data to take action."

The extremely limited and nonsensical scope of the investigations between 2004 and 2007 continually failed to show any failures, and Toyota routinely pointed that out when the subject was brought up even in the weeks that led to the original recall of 3.8 million floor mats in the fall of 2009. In fact, ABC News claims that a document provided by Toyota to NHTSA stated that the Japanese automaker would not even submit a report to the government "in which the customer alleged that they could not control a vehicle by applying the brake."

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[Source: ABC News]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      So , more corrupt government officials on George Bush's watch .
      What a good job he did for the country . Another black mark for his legacy .
        • 5 Years Ago
        Well that didn't take long.
        • 5 Years Ago
        BDS... Please help us find a cure.
      • 5 Years Ago
      So there are corrupt officials in the NHTSA?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Haha invisible you DOLT!

        It's obvious he is being sarcastic
      • 5 Years Ago
      Oh well...so much for all that grandstanding by the NHTSA then, eh? LOL Gotta love gov't! We'll get to the bottom of this...someday. We promise.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yet you were still voted up, LOL
        • 5 Years Ago
        You didn't read the article did you? I think you have the story backwards, or I misread your comment.

        Toyota ignored the cases, not the NHTSA. Toyota hired a former NHTSA employee to get the inside track and now he is a whistle blower.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Actually, I think I may have it wrong. My apologies.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The thing is, when it comes to investigations done by one part of the government investigating another part of the government..they don't stop digging in till they find something..Lobbying is one thing which everyone does.. but if these accusations come out to be true WOW a lot of heads are going to be chopped off...
      • 5 Years Ago
      Got an email yesterday from my local Toyota dealer that they've started fixing the pedals on the recalled vehicles......called them up today and looks like my 2010 Camry is not part of the recall.....phew!
        • 5 Years Ago
        In light of this story, if I owned *any* Toyota, I could not breathe a sigh of relief no matter what they told me.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Even if Toyota plays dirty pool, customers will keep buying if they've had good luck with the product and it's perceived as a good value. Unless there's blood on the streets every night on the news, they won't be afraid of the .00000023 chance of the throttle sticking or these other gremlins.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The list is getting longer....

      Add raging Toyota 4Runner to recall list, local woman says
      February 5th, 2010, 3:00 am · 5 Comments · posted by Teri Sforza, Register staff writer

      On Jan. 2, she was pulling into a parking spot when her engine surged and her car leaped forward with such force that she smashed into the PT Cruiser parked opposite her, launching it completely from its spot. Trembling, she backed up, turned off her ignition, and kept repeating, “What just happened? What just happened?”

      Stories like Reynolds’ are not uncommon in this era of unprecedented Toyota recalls. But Reynolds, of San Clemente, doesn’t own one of the recalled cars. She owns a 2004 Toyota 4Runner. Which is supposed to be just fine.

      But it is not fine.

      Reynolds’ insurance company sent her 4-Runner to the Caliber Collision Centerin San Juan Capistrano for body work. Within weeks, it was done. The body shop took the 4Runner for a test drive before calling Reynolds to say “Pick ‘er up.” The 4Runner was going about 35 miles an hour, and Caliber’s test driver hit the brakes - only to find the car would not stop. It took a second pounding on the pedal to calm the car down.

      Now Caliber’s Justin Frost will not release the 4Runner to Reynolds, because he’s not convinced that it’s safe, and Caliber doesn’t want an accident on its conscience (or its liability sheet).

      So Caliber - the body shop! - is paying for a rental car for Reynolds, as it awaits something in writing from Toyota Corporate, saying that the car has been checked and is certified as safe.

      Toyota has been out to inspect the car, but Reynolds said the inspector did not drive the car, and there has been no resolution. Calls to Toyota weren’t returned by deadline.

      “I strongly suspect that Toyota does not want to believe that yet another model is having acceleration problems,” Reynolds told us in an email, “but, believe me, if anyone had experienced how my accident happened, they would have no doubt that my vehicle is in question.”

      Reynolds, who has been a loyal Toyota customer over the years, wants people to know “that there could be, and probably is, a question about other models than those presently being recalled,” she said.

      “There’s no question in my mind,” she said. “I’m scared to drive that car.”

        • 5 Years Ago
        Good on you Jamie.. Haven't seen you on here in a while but you always bring some juicy new information often unheard of when you do post..
      • 5 Years Ago
      It was a Saturday afternoon, April 19, 2008, and Mrs. Alberto, a 77-year-old former autoworker, was driving her 2005 Toyota Camry. Within blocks of her home, witnesses told police, the car accelerated out of control, jumped a curb and flew through the air before crashing into a tree.

      Mrs. Alberto was killed instantly, leaving her family stunned at how such an accident could happen to someone who was in good health, never had a speeding ticket and so hated driving fast that she avoided taking the freeway.

      Her car was not among the millions of Camry models and other Toyotas recently recalled for sticky accelerator pedals. And it also did not have floor mats at the time, which were part of a separate recall.

      Instead, the crash is now being looked at as a possible example of problems with the electronic system that controls the throttle and engine speed in Toyotas.

      Such computerized systems are part of a broader inquiry by federal regulators into problems with sudden, unintended acceleration in Toyotas, beyond the issues that have led to the company’s recent recalls. Toyota denies there is a problem with such systems.
      • 5 Years Ago
      eh... nothing new... now if they could listen to people would be a bit better... every time you go to the service department everyone thinks your concern is out of the twilight zone. I think the pedal issue was treated as the customer was nuts, wait... some you around here used to think the same... nothing new, move along
      • 5 Years Ago
      "Santucci testified back in December that the limited scope of investigations "worked out well for both the agency and Toyota.""

      How could it work out well for the agency? IT just saved them some work? I find it hard to believe Toyota wrote them a check for some hush money that was payable to the NHTSA. More likely this benefitted Toyota and a couple of people who worked for the NHTSA.

      Okay, so when this blows wide open, who goes to jail? Does Toyota get fined more then just a few million? Do they get barred from selling cars here at all? How do you punish people in Japan other then hitting them in the checkbook, or can they be brought up criminal charges?
        • 5 Years Ago
        I am pretty sure it was not a car that did not exist at the time. Of course even if it did I would be reluctant to accept it unless I could sell it. The taxes would be killer on something like that (the tax bill alone would probably be more than a Camry). Even gov types cant avoid the tax if they are plan to title it.
        • 5 Years Ago

        "i'll give you a free toyota if you won't tell anybody that toyotas aren't safe"

        hmmm ... sounds like a bad deal to me
        • 5 Years Ago
        I think they were free Audis..
        • 5 Years Ago
        Makes me wonder how many NHTSA employees got a free Toyota via Santucci.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Hmmmm... So earlier in the debacle, the crazy, mistrusting, libertarians were dangerous to note that a government agency can't help anyone, even if it wanted to. People sure felt safe knowing someone was watching out for them...

      Now, how quickly boobus turns on it's protector. We've all read the quote about security and liberty, well there you go. You neither deserved nor received either. But I don't expect anyone to start taking responsibility for their own lives. Just chalk it up to one more forgivable mistake by the beloved, ethereal state. Back to the regularly scheduled programming.
      • 5 Years Ago
      "an employee in the executive branch is barred for two years after leaving government service from representing any matter under the employee's previous official responsibility."

      IIRC this was an executive order that didn't go into effect till after Obama took office.
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