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The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) is looking into an accident involving a Toyota Highlander that claimed the lives of four motorists last year. Stephen Lagakos was driving with his wife and mother in New Hampshire when the vehicle sped up, passed a number of other vehicles on the shoulder and then crossed traffic. The Highlander struck a Chevrolet Malibu in the oncoming lane driven by Stephen Krause. No one survived.

The NHTSA is investigating the possibility that the crash was caused by unintended acceleration. Witnesses reported that Lagakos had been following the other drivers on the road for miles, giving proper following distance the entire time. When the Toyota sped past, the driver had both hands on the wheels and looked as if he was trying to avoid an accident.

So far, there's no indication as to whether or not the Lagakos vehicle had been serviced under Toyota's expansive recall. The 2008-2010 Highlander fell under the same January recall that brought in models like the Corolla, Venza, Matrix and Pontiac Vibe.

According to The Boston Globe, Toyota has expressed its sympathy for the families of the victims of the accident, and underscored its commitment to making all of its products safe to drive.

[Source: The Boston Globe]


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  • 45 Comments
      a.howes
      • 3 Years Ago
      I was in a head on collision after 1 month of owning my tundra. Then i was in a 65 mile an hour collision. Both times my brakes fell to the floor. I took my truck into toyota to have the brakes looked at. Toyota said that it was normal for my brakes to fail because i have abs braking and environmental things like rain, dirt and dust can cause that. They never looked at my brakes. I wouldn't buy from toyota right now because they have to many mechanical problems with the cars. And safety issues that are life threatening. I don't think they even know where to start to fix the problems. So the customer ends up being brushed off or lied to so they can escape liability. But i think they will be held responsible eventually. It may just take awhile longer. By the way i have bought 4 toyotas in 3 years which makes me a loyal customer. Right now thats nothing to brag about! Because you could end up dead being loyal to them durning this " Death Trap" title they carry..........
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'm sure many people will be up in arms over the NHTSA investigating this, but, given Toyota's recent history, it would be irresponsible for them not to investigate.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Toyota cars killing people? that's new.
        • 5 Years Ago
        How many more people will Toyota kill?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Don't worry, Toyota's unique ability to read the "black box" will completely exonerate the company.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Reality keeps picking on toyota becuase it hates toyota!
      • 5 Years Ago
      I hate to pull this thing at this point but..

      Manual transmissions FTW.
      • 5 Years Ago
      definitely driver's mistake...
      ...if he was the one who purchased that Toyota
      • 5 Years Ago
      being this may be an electronic problem and the transmission gear shifting is electronic. maybe these people are trying to shift out of drive and the electronics aren't responding. ......just a thought
      • 5 Years Ago
      "The Highlander struck a Chevrolet Malibu in the oncoming lane"

      The driver turned his wheel and headed into the wrong lane. Obviously, this is not the case of any brake problem. I keep telling people, never drink and drive or drive with a sleepy head.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Another meaningless loss of life, courtesy of Toyota. No more useless "aporogies", Toyota, just fix your damned, cheap pieces of warmed-over automotive crap.
      • 5 Years Ago
      A cash of drinking and driving or random accident or system failure? Only God knows.
      • 5 Years Ago
      More than the mechanical failures and seeming slide of Toyota quality, what these reports seem to highlight (in big neon letters) the need to completely revamp driver training. If they passed a bunch of cars, they had time to mitigate the situation. But since panic situation training is not really part of the education (or so limited to not really be scary), you get people frozen and just 'going along for the ride'.

      Many, if not all of these stories may have had a different ending if the driver remained lucid enough to go through the steps (1-discern if pedal is stuck and attempt to disloadge; 2-attempt to brake; 3-attempt to shift to neutral; 4-attempt to shut off vehicle).
        • 5 Years Ago
        Somewhat similar experience, but with ratted-out cars and pickups on mostly gravel roads (and fields and ditches). Had shocks blow in a corner, throttles stick, brakes fail, hoods pop open and wrap over the roof. Learned what to do quickly.

        But few have the benefit of redneck driver's ed. :-)
        • 5 Years Ago
        You are completely right.
        When I was a child I was driving russian go-karts:
        There were no brakes. We would brake with a lower gear or doing 360 on a full throttle (in front of a wall).
        Accelerator would get stuck very frequently - the only way to stop would be to unplug the spark plug cable (sometimes it would hurt too).
        So when I see these reports of people driving modern cars and not being able to stop - it makes me laugh and cry at the same time. People became brainless creatures...
      • 5 Years Ago
      "The Highlander struck a Chevrolet Malibu in the oncoming lane"

      For God knows it could have been a Malibu steering wheel failure that cause the Malibu to steer into the wrong lane and crash into the Highlander! *gasp* I know this is not what Obama would like this case to be.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Thank you Wiggly! Now I know why your username is "Mush" because obviously it's a description of your brain.
      • 5 Years Ago
      OMG my father owns a Highlander.
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