Last week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported its initial findings on the runaway Prius case in New York. The NHTSA disclosed information regarding its belief that the 2005 Prius involved in the suspected runaway case resulting in a head on crash into a stone wall was not caused by a manufacturing error on Toyota's behalf, but rather a driver error resulting from not applying the brakes during the incident.
The follow-up investigation conducted by the local Harrison police department came to an identical conclusion. The police department was initially upset with the NHTSA investigation and believed that the agency had come to a conclusion too quickly. Upon conducting its own investigation, Harrison police believe that the overwhelming evidence appears to support the NHTSA findings that driver error was the cause of the crash. The findings point to an open throttle and lack of brake pedal application, causing the vehicle to accelerate and eventually crash. Toyota has released its statement regarding the Harrison, N.Y. incident, which can be read after the jump.
The findings of this investigation appear more conclusive than the one involving James Sikes and his runaway Prius in California, where the California Highway Patrol did not find enough evidence to agree with Toyota and NHTSA that the car could've been stopped.
For Toyota, this is one more image boost during trying times for the company. Aside from the Prius winning a J.D Power award a few days ago and a couple of other sparse good words, the automaker has faced nothing but struggles in the last two months.
[Source: Washington Post, Toyota]
"Toyota sympathizes with the individuals and families involved in any accident involving our vehicles. We are making an all-out effort to ensure our vehicles are safe and are making substantial progress towards completing our recalls with effective and durable solutions. We also remain committed to investigating reported incidents of unintended acceleration in our vehicles quickly, as in Harrison, New York, and we will continue to work in close partnership with law enforcement agencies and federal regulators with jurisdiction over accident scenes whenever requested.
"As always, it is important to remember that many of the complaints in the NHTSA database, for any manufacturer, lack sufficient detail that could help identify the cause of an accident or, in some cases, even the specific vehicle involved. Furthermore, instances of unintended acceleration can be caused by many factors and they are not all sudden or sustained. The category is very broad, affects all major automakers, and can include issues involving pedal entrapment, pedal misapplication, transmission surges and driver reaction to normal engine speed control variations when cruise control or air conditioning systems are in use."