Investigation leads to further evidence of toyota malfunction causing sudden acceleration and death.
11/20/2009Toyota continues to come under scrutiny for the sudden acceleration issues with Lexus cars. Do you know what a gas pedal pivot lever is?
James E. Ballidis
James E. Ballidis
New details are emerging of the horrific crash that killed CHP officer Mark Saylor and three family members in their loaned Lexus ES 350 sedan.
Saylor and his family were driving on Highway 125 in rural San Diego when suddenly they found themselves racing down the road at over 100mph. Frantic 9-1-1 calls recorded the frightening moments before the car jumped a curb and burst into flames.
At the time of the August accident, Toyota stated that the reason for the accident was an improperly installed floor mat that caused the accelerator to get stuck. However, investigations by the National Highway Traffic Administration, Safety experts, and San Diego Sheriff’s have revealed that the problem could be much wider.
Since 2001, there has been over 2000 sudden-acceleration reports from Lexus owners and sadly, 19 were killed because their vehicles slammed into brick walls, parked cars or trees. Unfortunately, federal investigators dismissed many of the early cases due to this not fitting into an investigation’s “problem category” such as, unintended acceleration that lasted only a few seconds, sudden acceleration unknown to owner, and not stopping in a timely manner from sudden acceleration.
After the August accident, Toyota recalled 3.8 million vehicles that could have sudden acceleration experiences. They wanted all vehicle owners to remove floor mats until further investigations were completed. Models included in the recall are Camry’s, 2007-1010; Prius, 2004-2009; Avalon, 2005-2010; Tacoma, 2007-2010; Tundra, 2007-2010; Lexus ES350, 2005-2010; Lexus IS250, 2006-2010.
In addition to the floor mats not fitting correctly and causing the throttle to fully open, the NHTSA’s report claims that the Lexus’ accelerator pedal design may have contributed to the floor mat entrapment. Investigators found that the pedal’s main pivot lever is not hinged, so that there is no means to relieve forces caused by any interference.
This is consistent with the 9-1-1 call when Saylor’s brother-in-law claims that they had no brakes. Accident investigators found that the lower edge of the accelerator pedal had actually bonded to the floor. The brake rotors were found to have rough surfaces and evidence of heat and heavy braking. NHTSA documents found that the Lexus ES braking system loses power- assist when the throttle is fully opened.
San Diego accident investigators found that the floor mat in the loaner car provided to Saylor and his family was an all-weather mat, intended for use only in a Lexus sport utility vehicle, not a sedan. The floor mats are intended to be attached to the carpet with a clip. In this case, one of the clips was found under the mat and the other was attached to the mat. To date the El Cajon Lexus dealership has had no comment.
The San Diego Sheriff’s Department has recovered the electronic data recorder, in essence a “black box” for your car. They have not released their accident investigation to date but expect to find additional data from the recorder.
If you own a Toyota or Lexus in the above model years, remove all floor mats until further notice. I( will update you as the story continues to unfold.
Category: Car Accidents
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