After receiving more than 3,000 reports of sudden acceleration in Toyota vehicles, the U.S. Department of Transportation has concluded that driver error was actually at fault. According to The Wall Street Journal, investigators analyzing different data recorders from Toyota vehicles found that at the time of these sudden acceleration crashes, the throttles were wide open rather and the brakes were not depressed. Thus, they have reason to believe that drivers were mistakenly stomping on the accelerator rather than slamming the brakes in an attempt to avoid these crashes.

Of the 75 fatal crashes blamed on sudden acceleration, only one incident has actually been verified as being caused by vehicle fault – the Lexus ES350 accident that killed a California highway patrolman and three other passengers last August. Even so, this case was chalked up as an incident where the floor mat trapped the gas pedal, which Toyota quickly issued a recall for.

The WSJ also reports that U.S. Transportation Department officials have stated publicly that they have yet to find any electronic glitches in Toyota vehicles that could lead to these crashes. The only defects proven to be true are those that have been outlined by Toyota itself – floor mats and sticky accelerator pedals that are slow to return to idle.

So while Toyota may not have been at fault in these sudden acceleration cases, the automaker's image has indeed been seriously tarnished over the past few months. Over eight million Toyota vehicles have been recalled worldwide – a large blemish in automotive history, and it appears that much of the hand-wringing may have been for naught. Thanks to everyone for the tips!

[Source: The Wall Street Journal | Image: Justin Sullivan/Getty]