• Aug 20, 2010
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]


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  • 36 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      I have completely lost respect for NHTSA.
        • 4 Years Ago
        NHTSA has been so screwed up for so long, I'm surprised you had any respect for them at all prior to this latest revelation.
      • 4 Years Ago
      So - you're saying a complex device which records data from a complex web of sensors has been shown to be less than 100% accurate all the time when used in conditions which it was never designed to be used?

      Wow.

      Good story.
      • 4 Years Ago
      So many twists and turns in this saga.
      • 4 Years Ago
      "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."

      A rapid slow down in a short period of time (microseconds) will end up giving readings like this.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Nonsense - it was correct - just a little unintended acceleration...
      • 4 Years Ago
      So, these are the same black boxes that indicated none of the drivers could find the brake pedal?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Probably showed the accelerator was pressed - all 3 of them.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The NHTSA has been in bed with Toyota for years, and they are still screwing,.............the public.
      • 4 Years Ago
      On one hand Toyota says this about its black box data, "the data retrieved from the EDR is far from reliable", and, "The EDR was not intended to be used a reconstruction tool in the field. It has not been validated as a reliable reconstruction tool or crash data recorder for crash events in the field."(that hand being when they are in court being
      sued by someone who has lost a family member to a Toyota product). On
      the other hand, you have Toyota smiling with glee that some of their
      black boxes being analyzed by the NHTSA are showing that the gas was
      pressed and not the brakes. Is it safe to assume that Toyota and
      their lawyers will attempt use whatever data they acquire from these
      boxes, reliable or not, factual or not, to support their legal positions? Toyota
      can't have it both ways and only an idiot would defend their actions
      at this point.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Those sneaky bas****s. Imagine a forign automaker not being forthright. I am appalled. For all you Toilet lovers out there...you earned this.
      • 4 Years Ago
      just give it up GovernmentMotors, you lost. Toyota won.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Interesting. Black boxes that are not reliable enough to reconstruct crashes, yet the government wants them mandated and made to capture more data. Sounds brilliant to me.
        • 4 Years Ago
        What I don't understand is why each company gets to design their own (apparently) proprietary design. Should be one company making a universal box that interfaces with every car made. I guess the flip side of the argument is the graft and monopoly that the one company has, but it should be a non profit amalgam of engineers and experts of every major automaker.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I hope this doesn't get me labeled as a tin hat wearer, but I have the same concern about the gov't wanting to use EDRs. It just doesn't seem right to me that someone could potentially be falsely incriminated through the data recorded or interpreted from these black boxes. Anyone else feel this way?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Hey, all I know is that Toyota's "black box" (because nobody except Toyota can read them) data recorders are *flawless* in debunking "unintended acceleration" claims.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The T100 speed was accurate...it hit a tree on the way down, after its owner pushed it off a cliff...
        • 4 Years Ago
        I think the gravitational speed of objects cannot reach that. So maybe they were hauling a Jato that fired once the truck was dumped off the cliff.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Two things affect an objects terminal velocity, it's mass and the amount of drag.

        A skydiver in a belly first position will reach about 125 MPH in a free fall....A mass as large as a vehicle, even with it's greater drag, would easily hit 177 if dropped from an aircraft.

        From a cliff there would not be enough time for gravity and air resistance to equal out.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Miswrote WSJ for WP. The WSJ wouldn't write this low-level tripe.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The Wall Street Journal is no more reliable than Toyota.
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