Out of Control Toyota Cars May be Out of Control Drivers

The U.S. Department of Transportation has analyzed dozens of data recorders from Toyota Motor Corp. vehicles involved in accidents blamed on sudden acceleration and found that the throttles were wide open and the brakes weren’t engaged at the time of the crash, people familiar with the findings said.

The early results suggest that some drivers who said their Toyotas and Lexuses surged out of control were mistakenly flooring the accelerator when they intended to jam on the brakes.

But the findings–part of a broad, ongoing federal investigation into Toyota’s recalls–don’t exonerate the car maker from two known issues blamed for sudden acceleration in its vehicles: “sticky” accelerator pedals that don’t return to idle and floor mats that can trap accelerators to the floor.


I’ve seen this before.

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8 thoughts on “Out of Control Toyota Cars May be Out of Control Drivers

  1. If the computer opened wide the throttle and failed to attend to the brake signal, the computer’s record would show a wide-open throttle and no braking, even if the driver was standing on the brake with both feet while the accelerator pedal was not depressed in the least.

    If they want to get to the bottom of this, they must release the source code to academia. This would be wonderful work for engineering and computer science students. They could build tabletop simulators interfacing with Toyota components, and make computer simulations as well. Nothing excites a student as much as real-world applications, especially if they are important and potentially life-saving.

    Toyota should also consider open sourcing. Right now, every manufacturer is using home-grown algorithms for things like mode changes, anti-lock braking, hydroplaning detection, and so on. Some solutions will be better than others, which means some manufacturers have poor solutions installed. Here is another matter where academia should be involved.

  2. Simple fix Toyota should have done, a sticker saying hold on off switch for 3 seconds to stop engine. Of course the problem is fixed now with the brake override. (Would not work with a carb based car as how would you handle carb icing?)
    What I keep wondering is did anyone try neutral? It disconnects the engine from the wheels. Yes the engine might well kill itself by going over redline but a dead engine is far better than a dead driver.

  3. There are several factors which give us pause. Mechanical problems tend to get worse as items wear. You would also expect the number of problems to rise exponentially over time as the number of cars with problems increase. The very suspicious chart, I’m guessing, is related to the number of stories in the press. Once the number of human error accidents are factored out, then we can see how many are Toyota’s “fault”. I would also like to see a chart of other automakers unintended acceleration data for control data.

  4. Here in the bay area, where it seems like every tenth car is a Prius during rush hour, it is suspicious that out of control cars have NOT been an issue. I have not even seen one BA report. You would think that as common as they are here, we would have a percentage of the problems.

  5. Simple fix Toyota should have done, a sticker saying hold on off switch for 3 seconds to stop engine.

    Simple, but not too effective. Right now, my car is parked outside and pointed exactly at the exterior wall of a flimsly cabin where my infant son is inside sleeping in his crib. At modes speed, the car is way less than three-mississippi’s away.

  6. if they make it open source, other car company could use that software for free.

    And, the other other companies an use the other company’s software for free, in big complex web of mooching so everybody is happy. And companies that only use but don’t contribute are subject to waking up in the morning and seeing something like this:

    “General Motors uses the best safety engineering available. Which is produced by Toyota. Would you prefer a copy, or the real thing? Buy Toyota!”

    … or words to that effect …

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