NHTSA Denies Latest Toyota SUA Petition: Floor Mats to Blame

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has denied the latest petition for a defect investigation into Sudden Unintended Acceleration in Lexus ES350 vehicles, saying that Toyota has responded to the problem, by recalling 3.8 million floor mats, earlier this month.

Trouble in Toyotaville

The last month’s news has generated enough tarnish to all but blot out Toyota’s sterling reputation, built over decades. To recap: Toyota launches largest recall in the company’s history for all-weather floor mats that may entrap the accelerator pedals after four die in a sudden unintended acceleration (SUA) crash in California; the company is under investigation for a severe rust problem with Tundras; former corporate attorney Dimitrios P. Biller, former in-house attorney who accuses the automaker of destroying and concealing evidence in rollover cases, produces four boxes of documents to a court in Texas.

Fatal California Crash Highlights Toyota’s Sudden Unintended Acceleration Problem

SANTEE, CALIFORNIA—A horrific sudden unintended acceleration crash that killed four – including a California Highway Patrol officer who was at the wheel of the 2009 Lexus when it plunged over an embankment and burst into flames – may raise the profile of SUA incidents as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration weighs granting a defect petition to re-investigate the problem in Lexus vehicles.

On August 28, Mark Saylor and his wife Cleofe, both 45, their 13-year-old daughter, Mahala, and 38-year-old brother-in-law, Chris Lastrella, were killed after reporting to a 911 operator that they could not stop their Lexus ES 350, as it careened down Route 125. The tape of the brief call, released to the public last week, features the voice of Lastrella, telling the operator that the vehicle had no brakes. The call ended with occupants calling on each other to pray.

Sudden Unintended Acceleration

Sudden Unintended Acceleration can be rooted in a variety of vehicle defects including ergonomic design flaws, mechanical or electro-mechanical failures, or electronic failures.  The article below, republished from Safety Research & Strategies bi-monthly publication, The Safety Record, is an overview of SUA.