According to a report in The Washington Post, the event data recorders the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration used to investigate claims of unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles have a history of problems. In one incident, a Toyota pickup that struck a tree in a single car accident was recorded as going 177 mph – far faster than any T100 we've ever seen. A separate reading from the same device put the truck's speed at a more feasible 75 mph. The article even says that Toyota itself has warned about the reliability of data collected from the so-called black boxes by stressing that the recorders were not intended to be used as crash-reconstruction devices. In the recent past, Toyota has already been accused of being 'secretive' about providing access to their black box data.
The EDRs in question apparently also have a history of being inaccurate about more than just speed. In another case, the device onboard recorded that both passengers had their seat belts unbuckled at the time of impact when in reality, one individual was safely buckled in.
Unfortunately, government researchers have little other recourse when it comes to substantiating or refuting claims of runaway Toyota products. NHTSA just recently released a preliminary report saying that over half of the instances in which the vehicles seemed out of control were actually attributable to the driver applying the wrong pedal at the wrong time. The Washington Post has indicated that the unreliability of the EDRs leaves some question as to the validity of those findings. They may have a point. Thanks for the tip, FYI!
[Source: The Washington Post | Image: Justin Sullivan/Getty]