Our Point of View: A Healthy Discussion on Safety

December 10, 2009

by Irv Miller

The following letter was submitted to the Los Angeles Times in response to a Dec. 5, 2009 editorial. The Times published the letter on Dec. 9.
Here is the link to the L.A. Times editorial.
December 5, 2009
To: Letters to the Editor, Los Angeles Times
Toyota's highest priority is the safety of our customers and public, and we believe we are demonstrating this in the voluntary recall of selected models we are currently undertaking.
We appreciate the LA Times' acknowledgement that Toyota "did the right thing" in instituting a recall in response to incidents of unwanted acceleration, and in committing to add "smart pedal" software technology as an added fail-safe measure. We also respect the Times' in-depth reporting of this issue, though we disagree with some of the theories it has embraced.
The issue of unintended acceleration involving Toyota and Lexus vehicles has been thoroughly and methodically investigated on several occasions over the past few years. These investigations have used a variety of proven and recognized scientific methods. Importantly, none of these studies has ever found that an electronic engine control system malfunction is the cause of unintended acceleration.
In fact, electronic throttle control, which has been adopted in some form by nearly all automakers, has several fail-safe features and enhances vehicle safety by making possible functions such as traction control, stability control, adaptive laser cruise control and snow mode power control on current or future vehicles.
Based on the comprehensive investigation and testing, we are highly confident that we have addressed the root cause of unwanted acceleration -- the entrapment of the accelerator pedal. As the Times acknowledged, Toyota moved quickly, in cooperation with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, to issue an initial safety advisory and then to develop a comprehensive package of measures that both reduce the risk of pedal entrapment and better enable drivers to deal with this situation when it occurs.
The safety measures we are undertaking include the incorporation of a brake override system that cuts engine power if the accelerator and brake are depressed at the same time. This will become standard on all Toyota and Lexus vehicles globally by the end of 2010. Dealers will be ready to implement this remedy starting in January. We will begin mailing letters to customers at the end of this month, advising them how to proceed.
Again, the safety of our owners and the public is our utmost concern, and Toyota will continue to thoroughly investigate and take appropriate measures to address any vehicle defect trends that are identified. We also will continue to introduce advanced safety technology into Toyota and Lexus vehicles with the goal of ensuring that they meet the highest industry standards.
Irv Miller
Group Vice President, Environmental and Public Affairs
Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

Displaying comments 1 - 5 of 42:

Robin Altman said...
I traded in a 2006 Pontiac Vibe GT (Toyota Engine and Six Speed Manual Transmission) on my Tundra. At the time, The drivers side floor mat constantly rode up over the accelerator because the car did not come with floor mat hold-downs(I was the original owner). After complaining to the GM dealer I was told I had to buy the needed parts - 30.00 plus shop rate of 126.00/hour to install them. When GM announced that Pontiac was going away the value of my car dropped in half overnight. I was able to make the trade, but it cost me. I would LOVE to join any class-action lawsuit against GM and it's dealers for selling unsafe cars and for causing my loss of value!
4/22/10 at 12:00 AM

John Shannin said...
I have owned cars including a Corvair, 45000 miles oil leaks so bad the clutch needed replacement Traded on ad dodge, Dodge, muffler failed at 11000 miles, dealer would not honor warranty, Piston had hole in it at 75000 miles. Bought three Volvo's, which run a average of 130,000 miles before trade-in I bought a 2008 Prius in April 2008, It was rear-ended by trailer truck failed to slow for traffic on an interstate. It saved my life due to its design. It has been replaced by a 2010. The recall for the brakes was fixed very quickly by the dealer. I am a professional engineer and have designed systems for aircraft and projects from Nome to the middle east, I am very happy with the design of the Prius based on upon the discussions at an energy fair in this area and the data from a website of the testing done on the vehicle.. I very pleased with
3/16/10 at 12:00 AM

Caroline said...
I have just purchased a new Corolla to replace my Ford Focus for which the transmission died on me with only 95000 miles. I trust it and am happy with my purchase so far. I don't always trust news reporters, they tend to be biased and bend the truth to make things news worthy.
3/16/10 at 12:00 AM

Charlene said...
My family owns 3 Toyota's right now. One we bought in 07, one in 09 and last one a month ago. All of them are Yaris's. Two hatchbacks and one sedan. We love them. Have no problems with them. We bought our first Toyota in 1987 and had that truck for 15 years before we sold it and it was still in great shape. Toyota is getting a bad rap right now and if true historical data was being pulled about American made cars and honestly reported, it would turn out that more American car companies have had a lot more problems and recalls. If your planning to buy a Toyota, go ahead, don't shy away due to the news.
3/10/10 at 12:00 AM

sweebs said...
most cars for the last 25 years or so have had rev limiters which will cut ignition at a pre-set rpm to prevent the engine from 'going beyond redline' - unless, for instance, you have a manual tranny and mechanically over-power, but with a stuck gas pedal and car in nuetral, no problem
3/10/10 at 12:00 AM

Dolores G said...
I agree with you. Toyota is very deceitful...
3/5/10 at 12:00 AM

Monique said...
I personally love my Toyota and have not had any problems with it thus far. Yes, it is unfortunate that there have been technical difficulties, but everyone just needs to chill out and remember that this could happen to any car company. Geesh.
3/4/10 at 12:00 AM

lookerby said...
RE : Cheryl "Obama is not "in charge" of GM. The Bush admin. first started the "bail-out" for GM way before Obama was elected." begin post: Really.......... your going to play that card? OK so every president can float along free as a bird as long as the man/woman before started it? Either A(stop it) B(stall) or C(none of the above - in other words pass the buck). When a person is elected president they are not given a get out of jail free card , the people elected this person in the hopes that he/she could change the "not so good things". Sounds like a management issue. Point: Bush was in office at the time of the patriot act. Security crazy all over the place. And then Obama some how finds a way to get full body scanners in airports to be norm?????? There is no change, if anything its carry on as usual and kick it up a notch. But hey he started it right?
2/24/10 at 12:00 AM

Cheryl said...
Obama is not "in charge" of GM. The Bush admin. first started the "bail-out" for GM way before Obama was elected. Our President is getting blamed for all the ignorant stuff that Bush is responsible for. People need to be aware that other terroristic countries are loving the fact that Our Country is being divided by Reds and Blues. "Divide and Conquer" people, that's what they are thinking. So we need to stay united!! Purple!! "United we Stand, Divided we Fall". Toyota is a good company and GM should not have ever been saved from get go. Thanks for listening.
2/24/10 at 12:00 AM

Les said...
Wendy its not about hoping you can trust Toyota or not that you have to worry about, anything can happen in any car, are you prepared to respond in an emergency situation? Are you a distracted driver or an attentive driver? WHen you are in your car with your children are you paying more attention to your children than your driving safety? Do you talk on the phone when driving, blue tooth or not? Can you be calm and rational in an emergency and take rational action to preserve yourself in a vehicle? I have had my gas pedal stick but not in a Toyota but a ford. I put it in neutral, applied the brake and pulled to the side of the road. My problem was a floor mat. Many drivers take their safety for granted when driving and act in a careless manner. I see mothers helping their kids find things in the car while driving, talking with their hands while on the phone. These are not safe drivers. There is a certain amount of responsibility that falls on the driver regardless of the brand of vehicle. If there is a problem with Toyota vehicles I believe Toyota will find it and correct it. There is a great advantage to be gained here by the US auto industry to fault Toyota and boost US motor sales. I think its a bit of a with hunt. I believe driver error is partly responsible for some of these accidents.
2/23/10 at 12:00 AM

Obama is in charge of GM Government Motors, of course they are going to slam Toyota! The Democrats support the unions ie GM! Toyota is non union in the US, so pucker up Toyota! I don't buy forign cars period but Toyota is getting the shaft! Hell I would not put it past the Congress (Democrats) to make it impossible for Toyota to continue to operate in the US! Meanwhile GM sales will improve while Toyota bear the brunt of Obama & the Democrats trashing! If I really needed a Car right now I would buy a Toyota just to through a monkey wrench in the Democratic Machinery! Vote Nov 2010
2/21/10 at 12:00 AM

Larry in MS. said...
I have owned 3 tacoma pickups a2004 and 2005 which I put 67,000+ miles on the 05.. I now own a 2009 with 30,000 + miles on it. The o5 and 09 have been the access cabs.I had my 05 in for one problem, which the dealer could not have been any better to me.The only thing with with my 09 was the radio which the dealer was happy to fix. The 05 and 09 have full floor mats which have 2 hooks holding them to the carpet. I do not see how the mats could get under the gas pedal unless they were not hooked. I could not be any happier with my Tacoma's
2/18/10 at 12:00 AM

J Webb said...
I'm beginning to agree with many who think this is a witch hunt. I won't go so far as to suggest it's a government conspiracy in favor of American car companies. But I think Toyota needs to be much more agressive in their own defense. To those who say buy American, what do you think you're doing when you buy a car made in America, by Americans with American parts? In fact if Toyota said they were packing up and going home with their jobs and they wouldn't be using American suppliers or workers anymore, they might go back to the Japanese quality they were known for.
2/12/10 at 12:00 AM

Virginia Coonrod said...
I have always been treated with utmost respect when I have taken my Truck into the dealership. I am sure with the amount of recalls things are a bit hectic. I appreciate the fact that Toyota stands behind their product. My Tundra is a 2006 and I have had no problems with it. I will definitely buy another one when this one is worn out! (I want the model built in Japan though)
2/11/10 at 12:00 AM

Werner said...
I have to agree with you, further more when you step in to your car it is always with your right foot and you apply pressuer to the flormate in the forward direction and will wind up in the gas pedal this can also happen when you drive if the floormate is not properly installed, so if you take your car for detailing or carwash they dont properly put the Floormates back in your car I have had this happen to me. There for you should as the owner/driver check your floormate installation after you get your car back from the carwash/dealer/repair garage etc. I think the Floormate issue should not be blamed on the on the car mfg.
2/10/10 at 12:00 AM

DJ said...
Drive by wire electronics without a failsafe brake to idle system seems to be the problem. I bought my first Toyota in 1975, bought one son a 4Runner in 2005 and helped another son buy a 2007 Tundra. I even recommended Toyota stock to family. I feel completely betrayed by the brand. When I had to replace my 1999 Camry recently, I bought a Honda. It's obvious floor mats and shims are not the problem. Read "Sudden Acceleration" by University of MD electrical engineer Michael Pecht and others. Consumer Reports had difficulty stopping cars with open throttles with just brakes. We need Ralph Nader and federal government intervention!
2/6/10 at 12:00 AM

Richard said...
I'd like to know what other vehicles this particular accelerator was installed in. Was it only installed in Toyota vehicles? Have other car companies also used this accelerator and what is the performance of this part in these other vehicles? I suppose the CTS corporation could supply that information voluntarily, or any of the other car manufacturers, foreign and domestic, that use this CTS accelerator. The information could potentially SAVE LIVES. This could show that the problem is either related to the performance of the CTS part, or to the car company's application of the part in the auto. The Denzo accelerator used by Toyota in these same vehicles, doesn't seem to have a problem at his time. Does it have the different design than a CTS accelerator to explain its correct performance? Now if it turns out that this CTS accelerator was installed in another car manufacturer's vehicle, and I have one of these vehicles, I would like to be aware of it. Toyota seems to be the first out of the gate of speaking about a possible problem with this CTS accelerator. What will be very interesting to see now, is which auto manufacturer will be the last to speak out about the use of this accelerator in their vehicles, and a report of the reliability and performance of this part in their vehicles. And if there is a problem of this accelerator in their vehicle, how long have they known about it? Perhaps the LA Times could look into this for me? Any other takers?
2/6/10 at 12:00 AM

Bill said...
I agree with the people who already mentioned that there is a simple solution to the stuck gas pedal: Push on the brakes, Shift into Neutral, and stop the car! Why are some people so fearful, and why did some people have to die? If you are driving a car, you have a responsibility to learn how to operate it, and to know what you should do if certain situations happen. I have talked to several people that didn't seem to be aware of what Neutral gear is on a car! Why don't the news channels just educate people instead of giving them a sense of fear and panic? Please spread the word -- there is no need to be afraid of driving your car -- just learn how to shift the gears.
2/2/10 at 12:00 AM

WestWorld said...
I agree 100%, Pretzel... my 2009 Camry is running fine, just like most Toyotas. I did not purchase it expecting a perfect car... there is NO such thing! But reliability was my first concern and I am very satisfied. This "stuck pedal" issue is not something I even worry about. After more than 40 years of driving, if that ever happens (doubtful), a little common sense is all it will take to deal with the situation. Believe me, over the years I've encountered a lot worse situations at high speed than this ( all in American cars). A car is just a machine and the operator has a lot of responsibility as to being aware of how to stop or at least minimize the possibility of an accident. I know I'll get "blasted" for saying this, but it's hard to convince some folks about mechanical designs(and failures) when they are not inclined toward such things or prefer to remain ignorant about them. That's fine, just don't become a firm believer in the media "gospel", because as we've all found out, it's usually quite biased, full of half-truths, exxagerations, contradictory and mostly non-productive... truthful facts don't sell very well, SENSATIONALISM does! Keep your Toyota( or Nissan or Honda for that matter) if you have one, it's safe and will serve you well. If you don't own one and are scared to drive one, then don't buy one. It's your money, buy something else that you may perceive as being better... you'll have to live with that, too. Simple as that!
2/2/10 at 12:00 AM

ML said...
Why do you bother coming on a Toyota website when you own a Ford. If you're happy with it, so be it. There are far too many pro-Toyota fans that would not bother with a Ford.
2/1/10 at 12:00 AM

ML said...
I wholeheartedly agree. I had a car many years ago that also had an "open loop" condition when a spring popped off the carburetor and the accelerator linkage revved up. I did not panic but merely put the car into neutral and pulled over to the shoulder. The arrogance of these people clearly show how they act in other matters of life. While I am sorry and sympathize for deaths and injuries that resulted, I do not condone the ugly american concept of having a lawsuit whenever one can ripoff a corporation.
2/1/10 at 12:00 AM

pretzel said...
I own one of the very first Tacoma's sold in 2005. Floormat issue???? Gas pedal clearance???? I ask Toyota to not waste time and money sending recall information to me. There is nothing wrong with my vehicle!
1/29/10 at 12:00 AM

SalBar7 said...
I own a 2007 Avalon and also agree with "yogahelps2" that my correct driver side all-weather mat would have to be unhook and moved several inches to potentially cause the accelerator to stick. I read somewhere that some mats could cause the accelerator to be stuck because 1.- wrong type of mat was used, e.g., one without hook holes; 2.- correct mat was not properly hooked to the floor or 3.- another mat was placed on top.
1/29/10 at 12:00 AM

Ramon said...
Tony, it's "you're" or "you are," not "your."
1/28/10 at 12:00 AM

Wendelyn Sullivan said...
Hi. We got in on the deal for cash for clunkers. We did look around for a new car. We were impressed by the salesman who talked about how safe of a car that Toyota is, how they are never in the news for recalled cars. We were impressed by that. We decided to go with getting a Toyota Corolla car. So we did and now a few short months later, we keep seeing how Toyota is recalling all these cars, ours might be included in these cars, since it is a 2010. So now they tell us that it is up to us whether we want to drive our new car, and if it has a problem, to do these things to stop our car from crashing. I don't know, but that scares me for me and my family. What do we do? We have to drive our new car, because we have no other vehicles. It seems like Toyota is telling us to drive our car whether it is safe or not. Maybe we will be one of the lucky ones and our car will be ok, it won't crash, but what if were not, and the worst happens. I am disappointed that Toyota has put all our families in this situation. Yes, I believe that they need to fix our cars and make sure that everyone of our cars are safe. They need to reimburse us if we have to get new transportation while our cars are being fixed, whatever the cost, if they can't be fixed, to give us another new car, that is safe to drive. I don't like the idea of my family or other families being in limbo about their new car. I think it is unfair for Toyota to say that we will get back to the car owners whenever. We haven't gotten any letter or anything to say that our car was on the recall list or anything to explain why it is being recalled or anything. This recall is emotionally and physically draining on all of us. It wasn't that long ago, when we went to a special meeting to learn about our new car, about the tires, engines, and such. I thought it was pretty cool that Toyota did that.. They gave us lunch and then the mechanics and other member of the Toyota team explained all about the features on our car, and answered any questions about our new car, and the safety features on our car, and how Toyota is a car that we all can trust. I hope that is still true. I hope we all can still Trust Toyota... Wendelyn Sullivan
1/28/10 at 12:00 AM

yogahelps2 said...
We have a 2006 Avalon and I cannot see how the floor mat could ever cause the accelerator to stick. I'd have to unhook it and then force the mat up about 4 inches before it would even touch the accelerator. Are some accelerators installed differently than others in the 2006 Avalons?
1/26/10 at 12:00 AM

Tony said...
Mike Hernandez, YOUR a MORON!
1/26/10 at 12:00 AM

tina said...
We had to purchase another car as ours died in Dec. due to an accident. We bought a Toyota at the end of December 2009. We were very upset to read about the problem with this car (gas pedal/acelerator). I believe Toyota knew about the gas petal issue, but did not want to ruin their chance at selling a lot of cars due to the government tax deduction that many people may be able to take before the end of 2009. A lot of people have complained about the accelerator problem and the company has made it seem minor with the "floor matt catch fix". The problem that has caused death and injuries. We are hard working people, that save money to purchase their product, because we trusted the Toyota company. It is scary to think that your car may or may not go into 4 WD drive when you need it most, or worst that it may not stop when you want it to. I do not understand why the company did not stop production, until they figured out the issue. Thanks for reading this.
1/25/10 at 12:00 AM

Mark said...
...forgot to mention that I am a loyal Ford Ranger owner...never going to change that part of my life.
1/22/10 at 12:00 AM

Thang Nguyen said...
Yesterday I wrote "remount the pedal is better than reshape ". Brake override is a good feature but not for all ECM. Everything relates to safety needs a "spare". Gas pedal needs "a gas handle" for "life spare". Driver can use "the gas handle" to override the gas pedal. Accerelator may got stuck by some reason such as interfere with floor mat , or the pedal return spring failure, or throttle plate stuck. my opinion is throttle plate needs "a gas handle" to override all mechanical and electrical control.
1/16/10 at 12:00 AM

james said...
Toyota dealerships, in my experience, are the worst to deal with. There is almost an arrogance about them. The guy is right, that is not one of the models of concern, but if the guy did his job correctly Charlotte would have left there feeling confident about her safety. Remember; The customer is always right!
12/21/09 at 12:00 AM

mike hernandez said...
Toyota has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to building quality and safety into all of their vehicles. I really don't think it is fair that Toyota should have their image tarnished just because of the California Highway officer who died along with family did not realize that shifting into the neutral gear and then braking was an easy way for him to stop the Lexus car he was driving. Toyota should not be held liable for the apparent lack of competence this off-duty officer displayed by not simply shifting into neutral.......
12/18/09 at 12:00 AM

Mat St.Clair said...
If you have the correct floor mat which im sure they checked out and it had the retaining clip for it you have nothing to worry about you have no legitamit reason to flip out your car isnt even correct model that was having issues it was the Camry and ES-350 so find something to complain about it that is legit!
12/18/09 at 12:00 AM

david mason said...
PRIUS in the FUTURE: Visited TOYOTA exhibition in Paris recently and am VERY impressed with this car - but a few questions beg answering: 1 - why noit LITHIUM Hydride light/powerfull/fast charge batteries by now ?? 2 - Electric motors should drive the REAR wheels and give us 4WD too ! 3 - Why not install your super little D4D diesel..... it uses so little fuel in my YARIS that I forge to fill up ! 4 - ATKINSON cycle goes some way to higher thermal efficiency - but MECXIC cycle would be even better for use of fuel and lowered emmissions. Get these into PRIUS version 4 and you are WAY ahead TOYOTA.
12/11/09 at 12:00 AM

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