Big Fine—Little Problem


Examining Toyota’s $1.2 Billion Fine

In March of this year, Toyota agreed to pay a $1.2 Billion fine from problems surrounding its recall after a Lexus crashed in San Diego on August 28, 2009. This crash was determined to be caused by floor mats that were too long and trapped the accelerator pedal.

In 2011 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published the results of the through study conducted by its engineering staff who looked into the claims that Toyotas experienced “unintended acceleration” which may have caused vehicle accidents or even deaths. Car and Driver Magazine summed up the NHTSA findings and stated that aside from situations “caused by accelerators hanging up on incorrectly fitted floor mats, the accidents were caused by drivers depressing their accelerators when they intended to apply their brakes”. Another theory of accident causes was that there was a problem with “sticky pedals” yet the NHTSA concluded that there was no evidence that “sticky pedals” played a role in any of the reported accidents. Further the NHTSA acknowledges that “sticky pedal” or otherwise, a gas pedal can be overridden by the brakes.

For the 2001-04 model years, Toyota and Lexus accounted for 5 of the 12 car models with the lowest death rates per driver year and none of those models with the highest death rates. Thus we can conclude that Toyota cars are pretty safe. Perhaps we can also conclude that the fine far exceeded the impact of the perceived problem.

Norton Automotive Group frequently includes Toyota vehicles in its available inventory. If you are interested in any particular model, just ask us to find one for you.

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