Personally, and I can only speak for me, I think that requiring that proprietary safety device is a good idea. What you complain about, mandates for safety, is the ONLY reason that cars have safety belts. While courts are inadequate as they are not scientists, engineers, technicians, doctors, dentists, etc, they do provide a civilized means for problem resolution.
Helping people help themselves to not lose fingers is far better than libertarianism. You always defeat any safety device you know, just to satisfy that libertarian urge.
Just for grins, check out "Table Saw Accident Stories and Statistics". Although I haven't verified the numbers, yet, I think that preventing over 93,000 injuries is a good thing, especially when those injuries are costly both in debilitating effect and money.
I realize this has been covered before but as the owner of a Toyota Prius I would like to point out the assumptions this article has made. First, the entire idea that the floor mat is the root of the stuck accelerator problem and, second, that it is floor mats from other companies causing the problem. We, my wife and I since it is actually her car, took her car back to our Toyota dealer after the stuck accelerator problem was announced and recalls began. They looked at our floor mats and told us that the floor mats we were using could cause a problem. They were not the original floor mats but thicker, nicer floor mats purchased from that very dealership and they even had 'Prius' printed on them and came in a bag marked Toyota! The floor mats made for that car, the original and the later purchased mats, were made to be fastened down in the back so they could not slide around or bunch up under the accelerator pedal. The only car I have ever owned with that feature. I disconnected them and tried every way I could to bunch the mats up under the accelerator pedal but there was far too much room even with my thicker floor mats. Far more room than my Oldsmobile has yet Aleros have never been mentioned with stuck accelerator problems. I have sever doubts that the floor mats are anything more than an easy excuse for an unsolved problem and how convenient to be able to blame it on other companies after market products. We still use and love our Prius but if someday our accelerator sticks I doubt the floor mat will have anything to do with the problem. I really hope people other than just Toyota employees are still looking into this problem.
If you want to see an absurd lawsuit about design flaws check out Osorio vs One World Technologies et al. One very dangerous lawsuit about requiring all tablesaws to implement new proprietary technology. The court is now able to determine the best mouse trap, and require all other manufacturers to build it.
The fact is that people are going to complain and regulators need to listen. The problem here is that the user must be identified as the source of the problem and that there is very little that the engineer can do and so the user must be educated. However, as the book "The Bell Curve" states, the vast majority of people are too smart by half.
I've dealt with complaints about medical devices in which the complaint had nothing to do with the device, yet it had to be dealt with. This is the nature of fact finding though, which indicates that the process needs far better filters and when the user (the complainer) is at fault, perhaps a means to hold them accountable for addressing their deficiency(ies) needs to be incorporated. After all manufacturers need to comply with safety regs so why not customers?
Although the floor mats can be used in imaginative and unusual ways to jam the accelerator, the culprit that is not being properly addressed is the fact tht the car could not be turned off.
In all industrial machinery applications, there is a big red mushroom button that is required by law to shut down the machine immediately. I suggest that we had a similar mechanism in autos with the physical key, but have lost this feature with keyless entry.
Before we create another complicated system to watch for accelerator and brake activity at the same time (and there are legitimate reasons to do this as well as sensor failure modes), how about we just make an e-stop botton for the dash. No computer interface needed.
Make things as simple as possible, but not simpler.
Having been the driver of many old cars, I've been "victim" of uncontrolled accelleration (where the throttle cable frayed) and the uncontrolled lack of de-accelleration (where I lost brake fluid in my master cylinder due to a design flaw). I've never had a floor mat cause either problem, and I cannot fathom how it would unless the floor mat itself was on top of the accellerator pedal. I still own an '88 Jeep Cherokee that was subject to unintended accelleration back then (although it has never happened to me or anyone I know that owns similar Jeeps).
Blaming the customer is not the answer. Some questions that need to be answered from this: What's wrong with the accellerator pedal design that it's subject to this condition? What's wrong with toyota's floors that incite owners to stack carpet on the floor? Is the floor board on these cars too small to have safe pedal spacing and size?
Toyota's initial response was to blame the customer and (from what I read at the time) to deny independent access to the car's black boxes, which is why this issue wont go away. What needs to happen to put this issue to bed is for the government to define safe standards for the operation, size, and spacing of the main controls of all motor vehicles (brake, clutch, accellerator, steering wheel). This is especially necessary now where the available horsepower makes these vehicles lethal in the wrong hands.
The next logical step in this process is separate floor mats will no longer be included with vehicles. That way if there's a wreck and there's a floor mat in the car, the manufacturer can claim it was an owner modification and insulate themselves somewhat from liability. You can bet there's an engineering team at Toyota right now designing molded-in floor mats for future models. And great big warning stickers on aftermarket mats about how this floor mat can cause serious injury or death.
ttemple, you make a point at the end of your comment that the reaction would be different if it were GM or Ford. I believe you are correct. This is as a result of the market positioning of Toyota. Their identity is based on being high quality and having superior engineering and attention to detail. The issues raised by their recent problems call all of that into question.
In thinking on this issue and many of the lawsuits mentioned by other commenters, I'm reminded of the 1960 Cyril Kornbluth story "The Marching Morons". Perhaps it's time to build some "rockets to Venus".
I'm also reminded of the song "Flakes" off of the Frank Zappa "Sheik Yerbouti" album.
Perhaps there is a fundamental design flaw with their accelerator pedals. In the old days, accelerator pedals hinged at the floor of the car. (The top of the pedal moved, the bottom was stationary) I don't know, but I am assuming that the Toyota pedal hangs down from the firewall, and wedges if the carpet is too thick, moved out of place, or has 8 carpet samples on the floor. With the older design (hinge the pedal at the floor), this really wasn't a problem. There was no way the pedal could get caught on the carpet, because it was hinged at the bottom. (There is no gap. The pedal is hinged to the floor.)
This seems easy to fix. First admit that there is a fundamental design issue, then hinge the pedal at the bottom so the carpet can't get under it.
Unfortunately, I can't help but think that the responses to this would be different if it were GM or Ford, and not Toyota.
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