Our Point of View: A Healthy Discussion on Safety

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.