When The Wall Street Journal reported that crash data obtained by the U.S. Department of Transportation pegged the blame for Toyota's unintended acceleration on drivers, one line stuck out:
With no official word from the DOT or NHTSA on its findings in the case, the WSJ's sources have been called into question."A NHTSA spokeswoman declined to comment on the findings, which haven't been released by the agency."
According to an unnamed NHTSA spokeswomen speaking with Just-Auto, "The story was planted by Toyota. Toyota is the source – yes we know that for definite [sic]. It is [the] Toyota PR machine. We knew they were going to put it out."
There's no doubt Toyota is in close contact with the DOT and NHTSA, so there's a good chance that Toyota has been privy to the findings ahead of their official release. However, until something official comes down from the Feds, the exact causes of unintended acceleration aren't simply open and shut.
We're in the process of contacting both NHTSA and Toyota about the story and will update you as more information is collected.
UPDATE: A NHTSA spokesperson has confirmed that the agency hasn't released any information to the WSJ, but declined to comment if Toyota has gained advanced access to the agency's findings.
UPDATE 2: A report by the Detroit Free Press quotes NHTSA Administrator David Strickland as saying that the agency has "several more months of work" to complete before it can definitively come to a conclusion on the cause of unintended acceleration.
UPDATE 3: We've asked Toyota's National Manager for Environmental, Quality, and Safety Communications, John Hanson, if NHTSA has been supplying information to Toyota on its investigation. His response: "It's been a one-way valve [to NHTSA]. We've been supplying information and sending it to NHTSA. We are not aware of any study. We are not aware of any report. We've been compiling our own field reports on unintended acceleration and as we investigate them, we send them to NHTSA. The WSJ report was news to us."