February 17, 2010
We have been watching with great interest as NHTSA has suddenly proclaimed 34 deaths in Toyota sudden unintended acceleration incidents, (when nary but one has been officially counted in eight investigations) and Toyota has doubled down on nothing-is-wrong-but-floor-mats-and-sticky-accelerator-pedals. We are pleased to see that NHTSA, under the current administration, is now taking the fatality reports more seriously and Toyota’s claims with a healthy dose of skepticism.
But we’ve been looking back – specifically at eight deaths that occurred during a six month window in 2003 and 2004 that alleged unintended acceleration. These all occurred in Toyota Camrys during the time that NHTSA, after meeting with Toyota, narrowed the scope of its investigation (PE04021) of Camry and Lexus ES vehicles for throttle control and vehicle surging to exclude the very scenarios that were alleged in some of these fatal crashes. But the lost lives of eight people were apparently horse-traded out of investigatory view.
On March 22, 2004, Mrs. Juanita Grossman died from her injuries in a crash that rocketed her out of a pharmacy parking lot, into another vehicle, then into one building and finally, the offices of Statewide Realty. (They still remember the crash very well.) The EMTs who extracted Mrs. Grossman noted that both feet were “jammed” on the brake pedal.
Remember: Toyota says the brakes always work and its electronic throttle system never fails unless the computer records it and the vehicle goes into limp-home mode.
So, how does one slam at full throttle into a building with both feet on the brake? We’re very curious. Toyota and NHTSA? Not so much.
We’ve taken a closer look at the public record on these incidents and we’re posting our analysis. Read our addendum.