I think hbiss hits on a very salient point....that some current vehicle designs do not follow a long-ago established design point that the brake pedal, fully depressed, should never reach a plane that is equal to or below the plane of the accelerator pedal. This rarely seems to be a consideration when these cases of unintended acceleration happen.
Yes I have been afraid that if my mat caught one of the pedals it could spell disaster that's why my Toyota has factory made mats. They are generally twice the cost of aftermarket however they last long and function flawlessly.
My main question is how far do we have to go to make our products idiot proof? Let's face it the more idiot proof a product is the more costly it is.
Perfect example Fluke multimeters vs. cheap multimeters. Cheap meters have same accuracy as flukes. Have you ever measured resistance while the circuit was powered with 40VDC? Yes a fluke does not break (its idiot proof) no the cheap multimeter did not survive. However I bought the cheap one for 20usd and the fluke for 200usd.
Is this what automotive will become we will have to buy the fluke because government assumes we are all idiots?
Can we have something similar to this for equipment operation too? "Ignorantia juris non excusat"
"Ignorance in operating of automobiles does not excuse"
Quote me on this and pass it on. Most states require you to know how to turn on your head lights they should require you to have the common sense of what mat you place in your car.
To Loco1: Thanks for commenting. We had heard about some Toyota dealerships possibly giving out the wrong floor mats with their cars. Could you please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org? Are there any other readers out there who were given the wrong floor mats by their dealerships?
You are absolutely correct, ttemple. The Toyota pedals are hinged from the top. And, yes, those that are hinged from the top tend to be more problematic (unlike the accelerator pedals in German-made cars, which often are hinged from the bottom). While reporting the article, we discussed this with David Champion of Consumer Reports, who said: "With the top hinge throttle pedal, the chances of getting something stuck underneath are greater, because that's where the clearance is."
No one in their right mind would make lawsuits about balled up carpets of stupidity. But some lawyers will. Some lawyer are not human - they will do anything for money. Next I blame the judges - oh yes, they used to be lawyer.
By rights, the car owners who do these things should be sued for negligence and public endangerment.
As I've mentioned before in my responses to engineering issues, these are not new problems. Engineers can not predict the aftermarket or what people will do to make their vehicles theirs. In the 90's, Ford had the same problem with the floor mats in the Ford Thunderbird and Mercury Cougar (The Lincoln Mark VIII was not lumped into this for some reason, although it was the same chassis). The floor mats would slide up under the pedal, bunching up and causing it to stick. A car buddy who had modified his Thunderbird (added a supercharger, had somewhere in the neighborhood of 450hp at the rear wheels) learned about this after a misshap on a freeway on-ramp after taking his car out of storage one spring. Although the floor mats were original (and the reason for the problem), could Ford have predicted the built up engine with supercharger under the hood? No, but they did have a fix for the floor mats when he looked into it.
What it comes down to is that you can't predict the aftermarket. If someone wants to personalize something and it doesn't interact with the OE equipment as the engineer originally intended there isn't much you can do about it. This happens in the construction industry all the time, people modify a building without consulting and engineer and it fails, who's to blame?
I'm not saying all the cars with the floor mat issues had aftermarket floor mats, but I'd guess they may have been removed for cleaning and not properly/fully re-installed as the engineer intended.
I own a 2005 Prius and I see nothing wrong with the acellerator pedal/floor mat design. It is hinged from the top as you said, but a design hinged at the bottom would be even more prone to being pushed by a loose floor mat. The current design has plenty of room under the pedal for a rougue floor mat to simply pass under if it were loose. However, beyond the normal textured bottome to prevent slippage there are additional hooked clips installed in the floor that pass up through the floor mat grommets that prevent the floor mat from moving forward at all. I am completely perplexed as to how there could be any issue with this, given what I see as over engineering, compared to other cars I have seen. When I received the recall notice I just looked the car over and then ignored the recall because there is simply no way that mat is going anywhere.
Would have been nice to have been provided a picture of the accellerator and distance off the floor in the article as manufactured by Toyota. Most accelerators are no longer hinged and have space allowed for the floor mat to sit below the accelorator or even slide under it.
In my 1990 Toyota Echo, immediately in front of the driver's seat, there is a hooking device on the floor board that passes through the carpeting and I believe is intended to retain the a floor mat. So I don't believe in the arguement put forth that the Toyota designers do not anticipate these kinds of problems.
It's funny that you don't hear anything about Ford or GM. Back in 2009 I bought a new Ford pickup. This was at the height of the Toyota situation and this was my first "drive by wire" vehicle so I was skeptical. Sure enough, one day as I was backing out of my driveway I stepped on the brakes and the truck accelerated! Luckily I was able to shift into neutral before hitting a utility pole. Brought it back to Ford and they assured me that this couldn't happen, must be driver error. Several weeks later it happened again as I was braking going down a hill. Since there was no immediate danger I again put it in neutral, the truck stopped and I froze my feet in position because I wanted to see what was going on. As the engine sped up to 2500 rpm I looked at my feet to see that I was catching the accelerator pedal with the right edge of my shoe as I stepped on the brake pedal. I began to wonder how, after 40 years of driving I was doing this. The answer was that the brake pedal in this new truck was allowed to travel BELOW the level of the accelerator pedal. To test my theory I looked at my older (1998) Ford van and sure enough, as hard as you depress the brake pedal, it never goes lower than the accelerator pedal.
So to call this driver error isn't really putting the blame where it belongs.
- I think the word to describe the little nodules sticking out from the bottom of the mat are called "NIBS," not "nits."
- I think that Toyota, somewhere along the line, likely ignored their own FMEA regarding the mat problem potential. It's very easy under the "mitigation" column to pass off this item as non-sequitor, therefore no problem. Some of this is due, I'm sure, to the quote from another reader about the neatess of Japanese presence.
I bring the Medical prodcut extension subject up for simply this reason - a car is no different than a medical product in terms of it affecting our lives - literally. I design medical electronic equipment, and our engineering dept must scour our FMEAs for just such items - even something as simple as a foot pedal (much like a gas pedal) that controls our equipment. You'd be surprised at the scenarios we come up with. Most situations are ruled out quickly, but a few have to be dealt with.
As we have all learned as engineers - you can make an item as foolproof as practically possible. But you can't make it idiot proof. 8 layers of mats comes to mind.
In this particular situation, I personally believe that the Japanese engineers blew off the mat problem, likely through their lack of knowledge of our American non-neatness problem. If that's the case, after all these years, well - I'm just sayin'.....
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