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Toyota's Unintended Acceleration Woes Are Likely to Drag On

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Critic
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Re: Bad news
Critic   10/30/2013 8:51:18 AM
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Elizabeth, not only a headache for Toyota, but consumers can bet that auto manufacturers will raise their prices to cover the liabilitiy cases.  Ultimately it is consumers who will pay for these lawsuits, not the manufacturers!

Critic
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Re: Bad news
Critic   10/30/2013 8:48:46 AM
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GlennA, if you are referring to the 2009 Lexus/Trooper Saylor accident, the driver was not familiar with the car because it was a loaner.  Turning off the ignition and shifting to neutral in this car are a little different than in most cars.  It had the wrong floormats in it, which authorities think interfered with the pedals.

Sadly, in this case the driver had plenty of time to figure things out, but still didn't.  He apparently rode the brakes for a long time, rather than pulling over and stopping immediately.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Bad news
Elizabeth M   10/30/2013 7:47:57 AM
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Ah, yes, let's not forget all the lawsuits that could potentially come out of this. That compounded with safety and design concerns could make this one massive headache for Toyota.

far911
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Unintented acceleration isn't new
far911   10/29/2013 11:46:11 PM
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In the 1980s, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported a narrow definition of sudden acceleration only from near standstill in their 1989 Sudden Acceleration Report:

"Sudden acceleration incidents" (SAI) are defined for the purpose of this report as unintended, unexpected, high-power accelerations from a stationary position or a very low initial speed accompanied by an apparent loss of braking effectiveness. In a typical scenario, the incident begins at the moment of shifting to "Drive" or "Reverse" from "Park".[1]

The report is taken from a study, begun in 1986, in which the NHTSA examined ten vehicles suffering from an "above average" number of incident reports and concluded that those incidents must have resulted from driver error. In the lab tests, throttles were positioned to wide open prior to brake application in an attempt to replicate the circumstances of the incidents under study. However, it is important to note that the newest vehicle involved in the study was a 1986 model and that no test vehicles were equipped with manual transmissions or the electronic control (drive by wire) systems common in 2010.

These tests were meant to simulate reports of the time suggesting that the vehicles were at a standstill and accelerated uncontrollably when shifted from park. With modern drive by wire fuel controls, problems are believed to occur exclusively while the vehicle is under way.

In the 1950s, General Motors automobiles with automatic transmissions placed the R for reverse at the furthest clockwise position in the rotation of the column-mounted shift lever. L for low position was just adjacent as one would move the lever one notch counterclockwise. Because it was very easy to select L, a forward position when desiring R, to reverse, there were many unintended lurches forward while the driver was watching toward the rear, expecting to reverse the automobile. By the 1960s, gear selection arrangements became standardized in the familiar PRNDL, with reverse well away from the forward positions and between the Park and Neutral selections. The elimination of 'push-button' drive control on all Chrysler products began after 1965 to eliminate the ease of selecting an unintended direction.

far911
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Re: Number of claims
far911   10/29/2013 11:36:52 PM
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Tou r absolutely right , beside the court awarded$ 3 million to both the deceased making $ 1.5 million each.

Still The company is not accepting it and not ready to comment on the issue of unintented throttle.

J. Williams
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Platinum
Re: Bad news
J. Williams   10/29/2013 7:59:37 PM
Glenn, you nailed it, exactly.  I believe the problem is that some people (maybe most?) presented with an emergency, are only able to react in ways that were discussed, rehearsed, thought about, and/or trained PREVIOUSLY.  To think clearly, critically, and in a logical manner during an emergency is very difficult.  It is the main reason why training in the military is very repetitive.  You want the reaction to be virtually automatic.  Part of the reaction may be to stop, assess, then act.  Other situations may require an immediate response. 

I remember driver's ed classes at Hingham High 35 years ago, and the teacher discussing skid control, steering into the skid to regain control and so on.  I think kids today still get these lessons.  But like any other young, stupid,  testosterone-laden red-blooded male, when the first big snowfall hit, I found myself a big empty parking lot with no poles or curbs, and had a hell of a time spinning donuts, whipping the wheel around, slamming on the brakes, grabbing the E-brake to put it into serious over-steer and all manner of vehicle mayhem.  I also learned what it felt like to have a vehicle out of control, and I quickly learned how best to recover.  (Pssst, I still enjoy a nicely controlled, smooth four-wheel drift on empty snow and ice packed roads.  ;-)

I know cost considerations would prohibit it, but I wish all driver training included at least 15 minutes on a skid pad with a knowledgable instructor.  I believe there would be far fewer weather related crashes on our roadways.  How do people with 4WD, traction control, stability control, and ABS still manage to put their SUV into the median strip when we get a couple of inches of snow?????  I don't get it. 

My feeling is that many people don't realize that in some cases, judicious use of the throttle and steering wheel, and not the brake is how you get your rear out of a jam.  But until you practice these skills, you won't know how to use them in an emergency. 

We keep coming back to our pilot friends who get trained in all manner of "emergencies" (under the watchful eyes of instructors) so routinely that they don't even think about it when it happens for real.  Captain Sully is the gold standard on this.

NadineJ
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Re: Number of claims
NadineJ   10/29/2013 7:00:45 PM
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That's very true.  This isn't unique to Toyota.  I believe Ford has a class action suit against it for the very same thing.

I suspect this isn't a Toyota issue...it's a car issue.

GlennA
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Re: Bad news
GlennA   10/29/2013 4:47:06 PM
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J. Williams;  I remember hearing a story about 4 people in a car with unintended acceleration who had been talking to 911 for several minutes brfore the car hit a dump truck and all 4 were killed.  I wondered why none of them thought to turn off the ignition or put the transmission in neutral.  Years ago my brother had an accelerator return spring break - he turned off the ignition.  I don't like the idea of the bush button Start;  I like the old fashioned key.  I think I could put a transmission in neutral and possibly let the engine blow up if the ignition did not stop the car.

naperlou
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Blogger
Re: Bad news
naperlou   10/29/2013 3:51:31 PM
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While it seems to everyone that the fly by wire systems should be safer, we have decades of data with the old mechanical systems and I do not recall any widespread unintended acceleration events in all that time.  I am sure it can happen, but it did not seem to.  Now, if I recall the Audi situation, the problem was that people thought they were stationary.  It was not like the case that was just completed against Toyota where the car continued to accelerate off the highway causing the accident.  In fact, the injuries were caused to people who wwent ahead of the car into the garage, at least in some cases.  I always get nervous when my wife starts to move foeward when I am going ahead of her into the house.  That is just one of the Audi scenarios. 

Fly by wire has been used for a while in  aircraft, of course, but I think there is always some sort of manual override.  We need to do a better job of dealing with the design and programming of these systems.

tekochip
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Re: Bad news
tekochip   10/29/2013 3:02:45 PM
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J. Williams;
 
You're right.  I instantly bristle at the thought of drive by wire, because a mechanical system seems safer to me, but the mechanical system can fail as well.  I sometimes forget that I had the return spring break on a carburetor, and that lead to a white-knuckled moment.  Just the same, a drive by wire car really needs to have an obvious kill switch.
 
To Ann's point, pilots constantly train for equipment failures, study accidents and practice what-if scenarios.  The training system works.  I had an electrical fire in flight and in a knee jerk moment I turned off the Master Bus without even having the chance to spit out a colorful word.  There is no way that automobile drivers will ever train the same way, or keep that training current. 
 
How often do you see something as simple as a turn signal being used properly?


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