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Driver Error to Blame in Most Toyota Crashes

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By Jason Beahm on August 11, 2010 12:58 PM

Sometimes things are not as they initially appear to be. When Toyota vehicles were recalled after a series of Toyota crashes, the media and the public were quick to pile on the automaker. After five months of investigating, the picture has changed. While Toyota could be responsible for a large number of crashes, the investigation has yet to find any defect beyond the defects Toyota reported. Further, in over half of the crashes that have been blamed on problems of "sudden acceleration," the driver was not actively breaking at the time of the accident, according to a government study.

The lack of braking at the time of the accident implicates driver error, or "pedal misapplication" as the cause of these accidents. These finding were presented by the U.S. Transportation Department to members on Congress on Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal reports. The vehicles are equipped with so called "black boxes," data recorders designed to keep track of what is happening with a vehicle at the time of a crash. The devices are capable of surviving most crashes.

Officials are quick to remind everyone that the investigation continues and will not be completed for some time. What this means for the investigation is yet to be determined. It seems doubtful that Toyota is going to be completely off the hook unless the investigation conclusively determines that none of the Toyota crashes involved issues of sudden acceleration. Toyota has indicated that an internal investigation found no evidence of problems with the electronic parts of the gas pedal that could cause sudden acceleration and is pushing the driver error argument.

With billions of dollars on the line, this issue isn't going anywhere for quite some time. But like any issue involving lawyers, multi-national corporations and government--it's going to take a while.

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