Monday, April 05, 2010

Statistical Evidence Suggests Driver Error To Blame In Toyota Acceleration Mishaps

While experts and auto pundits are busy trying to find fault with Toyota and its response to claims of sudden accelerations and accidents purported caused by defective accelerators in a slew of Toyota models that have forced recalls of millions of Toyotas, some statistical evidence suggests driver error may be more at fault.
The Los Angeles Times recently did a story detailing all of the NHTSA reports of Toyota “sudden acceleration” fatalities, and, though the Times did not mention it, the ages of the drivers involved were striking.

In the 24 cases where driver age was reported or readily inferred, the drivers included those of the ages 60, 61, 63, 66, 68, 71, 72, 72, 77, 79, 83, 85, 89—and I’m leaving out the son whose age wasn’t identified, but whose 94-year-old father died as a passenger.

These “electronic defects” apparently discriminate against the elderly, just as the sudden acceleration of Audis and GM autos did before them. (If computers are going to discriminate against anyone, they should be picking on the young, who are more likely to take up arms against the rise of the machines and future Terminators).

But Toyota is being mau-maued by Democratic regulators and legislators in the pockets of trial lawyers—who, according to the Associated Press, stand to make a billion dollars from blaming Toyota for driver error.

And that is before hundreds of past run-of-the-mill Toyota accidents that killed or injured people are re-classified in future lawsuits as an electronics failure in an attempt to win settlements against the company.
The age of the drivers is a striking feature and may suggest a correlation between the inability to discern whether the driver is pressing down on the accelerator or the brake and in the confusion believing that the vehicle is accelerating out of control on its own, rather than because the driver erred in his or her foot placement.

NHSTA has run studies in the past and found that the elderly are more likely to engage in pedal misapplication - and that electronic interference or other mechanical factors aren't likely to be confined to one particular age group or segment of drivers. In other words, operator error may explain the ongoing issue with unwanted accelerations.

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