The Department Of Transportation’s report exonerating Toyota of hiding electrical flaws in its throttle mechanisms will make class action suits much harder to pursue, a product-liability expert said.
The Obama administration’s investigation into Toyota safety problems found no electronic flaws to account for reports of sudden, unintentional acceleration and other safety problems. The only known cause of the problems are mechanical defects that were fixed in previous recalls.
The Transportation Department, assisted by NASA Engineers, said its 10-month study of Toyota vehicles concluded there was no electronic cause of unintended high-speed acceleration in Toyotas. The study, which was launched at the request of Congress, responded to consumer complaints that flawed electronics could be the culprit behind Toyota’s spate of recalls.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said, “We feel that Toyota vehicles are safe to drive”.
Toyota said in a statement that the report should “further reinforce confidence in the safety of Toyota and Lexus vehicles” and “put to rest unsupported speculation” about the company’s electronic throttle control systems, which it said are “well-designed and well-tested to ensure that a real world, un-commanded acceleration of the vehicle cannot occur.”
Officials with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said they reviewed consumer complaints and warranty data in detail and found that many of the complaints involved cases in which the vehicle accelerated after it was stationary or at very low speeds.
NHTSA Deputy Administrator Ron Medford said that in many cases when a driver complained that the brakes were ineffective, the most likely cause was “pedal misapplication,” in which the driver stepped on the accelerator instead of the brakes.