• Mar 19, 2010
Last week we told you about an incident in New York involving unintended acceleration in a 2005 Toyota Prius. This accident occurred just after the high-profile case involving Jim Sikes and his runaway Prius in San Diego, but unlike that incident where the car eventually came to a complete stop, the New York Prius crashed into a stone wall with the driver suffering minor, non-life threatening injuries.

Now, after a full investigation, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has ruled that this accident was likely caused by driver error, rather than a faulty brake system. NHTSA delivered this message to reporters:
"Information retrieved from the vehicle's onboard computer systems indicated there was no application of the brakes and the throttle was fully open."
Toyota spokesperson John Hanson says that the accident is being looked over by the Harrison, NY police department, and that the automaker will not comment until the investigation has completed. And while Toyota did join in with the investigation of Sikes' Prius, it is not clear if the automaker will take a closer look at this second incident.

With the validity of Jim Sikes' story coming under attack and the incident in New York likely being a true accident, we have to wonder how many other runaway Toyota incidents have been much ado about nothing other than driver error, intended or otherwise. With both the NHTSA and Toyota under a microscope, each one will likely be investigated by the feds and local authorities, as well as possibly Toyota too. Neither high-profile incident mentioned above has resulted in a solid case against Toyota and its products, a streak that may or may not continue depending on the result of each investigation going forward.

[Source: USA Today]


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  • 34 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      To be shure, some of these accidents/acceleration incidents will be driver error. Some may also be outright attempts to "cash in" on this issue. BUT, there is sufficient evidence that a problem DOES exist here, and Toyota will try hard to minimize this problem by utilizing these other incidents to it's advantage. There will be people killed in the future because real problems are sometimes masked by the fog of other issues. I for one will never trust a manufacturer of any sort who would do what this company has done. I think this is just the "smoke and mirror" job Toyota will try to hide in.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Hmm. You hit all sides of the equation, yet got voted down. I guess that means you found a way to offend everyone.

        I voted you up.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I read to "shure" and, well, couldn't finish the comment. Downvoted.
        • 4 Years Ago
        To finish- I never said that all these problems were NOT the fault of old codgers like me who can't find their own butt with a flashlight. What I said was there was a problem.....and all you KNOW-IT-ALLs don't really have an answer. Niether do I. All you people who DO have the answer should immediatly call the NTSB and let them know you have solved the problem. I bet they are really anxious to hear from you.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Woa there Jason, I think you lost 99% of the readers at RISC (reduced instruction set computer). You risk confusing people that think the computers in cars are anything like what they're using to bang out posts. It's understandable these days, as computers are creeping into consoles.

        Overall, the conclusion jumping and media hype surrounding what is likely 99% driver error is making it that much harder to find a 'ghost in the machine' if there is one.
        • 4 Years Ago
        You know boys, I just don't really care about this that much. I blogged an opnion as to the fact that SOMETHING seems to be wrong here. I never said that EVERYTHING was the fault of Toyota. I
        • 4 Years Ago
        Sufficient evidence of a problem? You just listed them.

        Again, until someone can prove, without a doubt, that the electronics are causing an issue, assumptions are NOT valid. There will always be a possibility, but these computers aren't anything like your computers at home. Sophisticated, yes, but microprocessors/ICs have specific tasks and a general purpose 32-bit RISC processor manages the systems.

        You guys are acting like an ECU that handles valve adjustments (yes, the variable valve system is ECU controlled and hydraulically operated) every few milliseconds can't properly handle the pedal position. Nevermind the fact that these "possessed" vehicles never skip a beat when their electronics are "on the fritz" accelerating into extra-legal speeds without a hint of an engine problem (which, is PRECISELY timed and controlled by the same ECU that's seemingly causing the car to accelerate on its own). The engines never seem to misfire (electronic ignition control/electronic fuel injection/variable valve timing), never seem to buck/sputter, and certainly never stall. Why is it that in these SUA cases everything is operating exceptionally EXCEPT the throttle control and even the brakes (at precisely the time the event happens)?
        • 4 Years Ago
        I would like to hear from someone who voted your comment down. Would they care to explain?
      • 4 Years Ago
      Shouldn't be a surprise, but women driver. If its a women driver you know its always driver error.
      • 4 Years Ago
      NOOOOO! REALLY?????
      • 4 Years Ago
      Some really good points made here so far, except how the Toyota haters have to put in thier irrelevant "2 cents" in. Toyota must be paying people to post on blog sites to sway the minds of those bored enough to sit around and hurl useless insults into cyberspace haha. If they could only nail down those incredibly influencial consumers, they will have the market on lock hahaha. Bottom line, everyone is an opportunist in some way or another but anything could happen in a machine with 5000 components.However rhetoric, heresay and arm-chair quarterback assumptions arent fact and they don't prove anything. Edmunds.com offered up a $1 million dollar bounty to someone finding an electronic gremlin in the Toyota software, and still nothing, with all the great technical minds on this planet and nobody finding anything its pretty hard to believe there will be anything uncovered.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Seems like Toyota hired some voters and commenters on Autoblog.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Old lady mistakes gas pedal for brake pedal. News at 11.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Anybody else liken this to the rash of "I was confused" incidents about a decade ago where people were mowing through restaurants and open air markets. It led to all the debate on max age limits for drivers. That was last generation. This generation we just have a scapegoat.
        • 4 Years Ago
        It sounds to me like it's time to start enforcing REAL driving tests like they do in Germany so we have, if nothing else, a few less stupid drivers.
        • 4 Years Ago
        This whole Toyota thing is mostly hype.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I wonder if anyone has run the stats on how many of the cars involved in SUA cases are also behind in car payments. I'd be surprised if they ever find anything beyond the floormat problem in Toyotas. Driver error and fraud likely make up the rest.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I wasn't aware there was a reproducible problem. I don't like Toyota, they don't make a single vehicle that appeals to me. Saving money has clearly been their motivating factor in the way they have handled their safety issues and rusting truck frames, but it seems this sticky pedal thing is a media driven witch hunt in which all the stories aside from the trooper in the lexus (floormat) have as much credibility as a pelican-dodging veyron.
        • 4 Years Ago
        It was not only reproducible (not in the Prius though), but Toyota was addressing in Europe while denying it in the US.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Well, not to be an ageist but here's an interesting stat I found:

        "Among 19 fatal Toyota accidents where the driver’s age is known, 10 were older than 60 and five were older than 80, which may indicate drivers who were more likely to depress the wrong pedal or not brake with enough force. The median age of drivers in fatal accidents in 2008 was 39, according to U.S. fatal accident data. The median age, where the data was available in the Toyota crashes, was 61. "

        A lot of these whiners happen to be seniors. Even worse, some are octogenarians.
      • 4 Years Ago
      What about this guy in Norway and his Prius. http://jalopnik.com/5491932/norwegian-prius-unintentionally-accelerates-to-109-mph-rams-guard-rail

      Was it drivers fault too.... Toyota,fix the damn thing and stop makin excuses!
        • 4 Years Ago
        Considering there are ZERO details on that report at Jalop, I don't think it's fair to blame ANYONE at this point. Toyota or otherwise.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Is anyone really surprised?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Woman driver vs car, which is more likely to crash?
      • 4 Years Ago
      @Willie "Would buying a Toyota in the first place be considered driver error too?".....No, buying a GM product would be though...lol
      • 4 Years Ago
      Probably a driver error in most cases. But I'm really wondering what Toyota is recording in their black box. If the problem is happening before the recording equipment, the black box will just happen what the car think is happening, not what is really happening. Honestly cars like a Toyota Prius are running more than 100 millions line of code there is going to be plenty of errors, and Toyota pretending that it hasn't made one is just stupid. Their engineers won't be magically better than the average engineer at Microsoft or the NASA and produce code without a single error ...

      http://spectrum.ieee.org/green-tech/advanced-cars/this-car-runs-on-code
        • 4 Years Ago
        From what I've read, it records every single "event" in the 5 seconds before a crash. Now you can argue that it may be missing some events, but that's pretty much a non-falsifiable argument. So far, no one has provided any evidence that the problem is electronic, that a electronic problem can render neutral to be useless, or that an electronic problem could even screw up the black box. Everyone just says "it's possible", when investigations on the matter have found nothing. All this basically amounts to a whole lot of unjustified FUD, because it's also POSSIBLE that divine intervention is wrecking havoc on Toyotas. Please bring that theory up to congress as well.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Audi 5000 ....

      and I would be willing to bet that most of the other cases of SUA were driver error
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