By on February 25, 2010

One of the most important lessons to come out of the last two days of congressional hearings on the Toyota recalls is that blaming individuals for unintended acceleration is too tough a task for our elected representatives. And yet the more we learn, the more necessary it seems to take human error into account when dealing with unintended acceleration. Nothing illustrates this quite like the case of the very first witness to give testimony before congress. Rhonda Smith of Sevierville, Tn told the House Energy Committee, under oath, that her Lexus ES350 became “possessed” and that its brakes and transmission failed to respond at precisely the moment that the car accelerated out of control. “Shame on you, Toyota, for being so greedy,” she said, wiping tears from her eyes. But it turns out that the shame belongs almost entirely with Ms Smith.

The Wall Street Journal [sub] [via Jalopnik] reports that, despite her traumatic and inexplicable experience, Ms Smith sold her dangerous, out-of-control ES350 to another family, which has since put 27,000 trouble-free miles on the vehicle (according to just-auto [sub], Toyota has since taken possession of the vehicle). Which means she either lied under oath, or displayed a disregard for the safety of others that puts Toyota’s missteps into stunning context. Or both. In any case, her behavior adds to our growing suspicion that the vacuous, disingenuous, and self-serving congressional hearings have been the best thing to happen to Toyota PR since the recalls began. Shame on you, Rhonda Smith, shame on you.

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88 Comments on “Shame On You, Rhonda Smith...”


  • avatar
    ott

    Wow. Looks like this “investigation” has hit a snag. Does anyone interview these witnesses before they take the stand?

  • avatar

    I remember hearing her “testimony” on TV and thinking something just didn’t sound right about it. Interesting.

  • avatar
    newfdawg

    As I listened to Rhoda Smith’s teary eyed testimony, the thought kept running through my head: Why didn’t she just put the transmission in
    neutral? As for selling the car to another family; did she tell them about that incident? If she did not inform them and they had suffered a similar problem, I’m sure lawyers would have happily picked her bones clean for having superior knowledge and failure to disclose the condition of the vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      davejay

      She claims she did put it in neutral, and then park, and then reverse, all to no effect.

      If that particular model has shift-by-wire, then it may be true (assuming software prevents shifting out of gear at full throttle for misguided reasons.) If that particular model has shift-by-linkage or shift-by-cable, then it is most likely false. Anyone know?

      Note that shift-by-wire in this case would include a shifter with a mechanical linkage, but the actual shifts controlled exclusively by computer.

    • 0 avatar
      L'avventura

      In the testimony she said she tried to put it into neutral but it wouldn’t go. I think I pointed out in the other thread that Dr. Gilbert, the other shock-and-awe technical witness, seemed to have contradicted her saying she should have been able to get to neutral, but the question was quickly changed to ask if she should have been able to get into reverse.

      There are also several things fishy about her story, especially the story about the ‘act of God’ suddenly that stopped her car, and the ‘possessed’ car on the wrecker. Also, even Gilbert agreed that even with the kinetic energy and decreased efficacy of the brakes, she should have been able to reduce the speed of the car even with a longer stopping distance. He even briefly mentioned the C&D article.

      http://www.businessweek.com/lifestyle/content/feb2010/bw20100225_403524_page_3.htm

      This is the problem with anecdotal testimony, there is no way to verify any of her claims, the car drove 27k trouble free miles, even if a technical inspection reveals nothing on the car, even if all logical facts proved she lied, she can always claim she experience this mysterious ‘possessed’ Lexus.

      This is argumentum ad ignorantiam, a logical fallacy in which it is claimed a premise is true because it can’t be proven false.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      davejay – it has a mechanical linkage to the transmission. I’m fairly certain that you cannot even move the shifter to the R or P position when the vehicle is over 5mph due to a mechanical lockout of the shifter cable. I don’t believe there is a lockout of the neutral position, at any speed, on this transmission (assuming this is the same as the toyota versions).

      When she said she put it in park and reverse and nothing happened, I was suspect. When it came out that she sold it to another family, it confirmed my suspicions that this lady cannot be trusted to give an actual account of what happened. She is saying what she wants to think happened.

  • avatar
    jimboy

    As I said in the previous blog, no driver responsibility whatsoever! Take some advanced driver training Rhonda. Learn your vehicle, get off your cellphone, buy a bicycle! (with a helmet). This has become just another congressional witch hunt so representatives can watch themselves on TV.

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    Thanks for telling it like it is, Ed!

  • avatar
    srogers

    So this unfortunate victim of Toyota’s greed and evil intent turned around and, in exchange for financial compensation, sold her known Demon Car to another human being.

    Does she have some more tears for the buyer that she is potentially sending to the grave?

  • avatar

    One funny thing is, I do not watch TV, but my family does, and my daughter later reported that something was wrong about that lady dialing her husband on the phone while car was speeding out of control (I hope I am not confusing this testimony with some other one, because like I said I did not watch it).

  • avatar
    blue adidas

    Man this Congress is stupid. I listened to about two hours of their prattle yesterday. What a bunch of grandstanding douchebags. Not one of them thought to ask “where is your car now?” I want to understand two things…

    First – Who did she sell her car to? If she sold it to an individual, then she sucks big-time. And she’s probably lying. If she sold it back to the dealer for a different car, that’s a different story. I’d be more inclined to believe her.

    Second – Can you, or can you not shift a Lexus ES into neutral when the car is in motion. In most cars you can, but I’ve heard that you can’t in the current gen ES.

  • avatar
    Michal

    The one HUGE missing hole in her story is how the car eventually slowed down after she literally tried everything. She said that God intervened. I’d like to know what God did to make the car slow down, and whether Toyota engineers put divine intervention in their incident report.

    As a computer programmer, her answer is simply not good enough for me. I’ve seen obscure bugs in my software that required at least six particular conditions to be just right to manifest itself. I don’t blame a deity of my choice when something goes wrong, nor do I look to the holy spirit to fix my program’s problems.

  • avatar
    angler

    Why the rush to judgement? What in the world would this woman have against Toyota? What’s her motive? She’s the social worker wife of a bank president, for heaven’s sake. Do you guys seriously think she not only made the incident up, but then pursued a personal multi-year vendetta against a corporation based on a story she made up? That kind of thing would require a full blown personality disorder. I suppose anything is possible, but isn’t it more likely that she’s simply telling the truth?

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      She told what she perceived as the truth, but not necessarily what really happened.

      Here is the most likely actual scenario to have occurred for her. Let’s assume that it was the sticky gas pedal. Her car was speeding up. She hits the brakes, but not hard enough to overcome the engine. Now she calls her husband, who tells her to shift it into neutral, and turn off the ignition. She starts frantically hitting the start button, and shifting the lever all over the place. At over 100mph, even in neutral, it takes some time to slow down the car, especially with over heated brakes. She is only used to the quick deceleration she normally gets at 45mph, and thinks the car isn’t slowing down. Remember, the time and force required to slow down the car goes up exponentially at speed. Finally the car gets to a point where the deceleration is more perceivable, and this is when she thinks god is saving her.

    • 0 avatar
      BuzzDog

      Sorry to nitpick, but Eddie Smith is a senior vice president of a bank, not a president. Believe it or not, in most banks there’s a significant difference responsibility, accountability and of course, income.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      If it was a sticky pedal, it wouldn’t be a Lexus. They are all made with Denso pedals.

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    the whole thing stinks of joe mccarthy

    horrible horrible witch hunt

  • avatar
    crash sled

    No, no, NO! You guys are completely off base here!

    That vehicle’s sale was completely on the up-and-up. I have it on very good authority that Rhonda Smith did NOT sell that vehicle, until a full and comprehensive exorcism was performed on it.

    The evil has been cast out from the ES350. It may be driven safely, for it is chaste.

  • avatar
    srogers

    I may not be that she has something against Toyota. More likely it is an unwillingness to accept that she might have messed up the situation herself.

    Maybe her throttle did open. But maybe when it, she could have taken measures to stop it in a less dramatic way and cannot accept this responsibility without denial and help from her god.

  • avatar
    BDB

    I think her story, at the core, is probably true (there was some unintended acceleration) but she’s embellishing it quite a bit. I to rolled by eyes once she got to “and God intervened”.

    Either that or this is what psychologists call a “flash-bulb” memory–during a traumatic event you honestly remember things and details that just weren’t there. That’s why some of the witnesses of 9/11 swore they saw a missile hit the Pentagon, even though it was really a plane.

  • avatar
    CamaroKid

    It is also interesting that her testimony was refuted by Professor Gilbert who said that you could always shift ANY of these cars into Neutral at any speed, and that any, and all, SUA problems would leave the brakes in working order. (At least until you pump them three or four times eliminating all vacuum assist.)

    So either the The Smiths are full of crap or the Professor (who admitted to have a conflict of interest in this case) is full of crap.

    Either way, we are wading in crap.

    If the Smith’s car was possessed? How did they survive? Did they let go of the wheel and pray? Do we really want to leave everyone with that advice?

  • avatar

    This, from MBella sounds like an excellent hypothesis to me:

    She told what she perceived as the truth, but not necessarily what really happened.

    Here is the most likely actual scenario to have occurred for her. Let’s assume that it was the sticky gas pedal. Her car was speeding up. She hits the brakes, but not hard enough to overcome the engine. Now she calls her husband, who tells her to shift it into neutral, and turn off the ignition. She starts frantically hitting the start button, and shifting the lever all over the place. At over 100mph, even in neutral, it takes some time to slow down the car, especially with over heated brakes. She is only used to the quick deceleration she normally gets at 45mph, and thinks the car isn’t slowing down. Remember, the time and force required to slow down the car goes up exponentially at speed. Finally the car gets to a point where the deceleration is more perceivable, and this is when she thinks god is saving her.

    The most important thing here though is that the car accelerated out of control. And the biggest question, to me, is whether she really shifted it into neutral (and other positions) and it still accelerated, or not. I mean, is it possible that shifting the car into neutral isn’t going to help if your Toyota accelerates out of control?

    I get the feeling, regarding the car’s presence on the road after this incident, that too many people are making assumptions about her behavior without enough information, unless the WSJ made absoutely clear what happened. I don’t have a sub, but for all I know she may have traded it back to the dealer.

    • 0 avatar

      The WSJ says only this:
      The Lexus sedan driven by Rhonda Smith, who testified in Congress Tuesday about a harrowing incident of sudden acceleration, is still on the road, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
      In fact, the new owners of the luxury ES350 sedan have reported 27,000 miles trouble-free with the vehicle, according to a NHTSA spokeswoman. Mrs. Smith and her husband sold the vehicle after the incident, in which she thought she might die.
      The federal safety agency followed up with the new owners last week. A NHTSA spokeswoman said “they have had no problems with the Lexus since they bought it with less than 3,000 miles on the car.”

      I agree that she probably thought her car was out of control, and believes she had no way of controlling it… but then why would she sell it?  And the fact that she uses “to make a long story short” to gloss over the details of the actual UA event in her testimony doesn’t exactly help her case.
      Why the rush to judgment? It’s irresponsible to scare children with ghost stories… especially when those children run the country. If the Kane-Gilbert effort is a trial lawyer scheme, they should definitely vet their witnesses a little better. Imagining what a well-paid Toyota defense lawyer would have done to Mrs Smith on a cross-examination if she had given that evidence in court makes even this rusher-to-judgement shudder a little.
       

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      Shifting into neutral will disengage the engine from driven wheels. At this point, the brakes will work normally.

    • 0 avatar
      segfault

      MBella:

      Shifting to neutral will disengage the engine from the wheels, but the brakes may not work normally for two likely reasons:

      1) They’ve faded from being applied repeatedly at high speed, while the throttle was stuck, and/or
      2) The throttle is still stuck, reducing the amount of power assist that is available.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    I sure she is a fine social worker, wife and mother. She may even be qualified to push a shopping cart around a grocery store. But she is woefully ignorant of how her car works or how to control it in an emergency. Send her to Bondurant or Skip Barber to learn how to drive.

  • avatar
    zerofoo

    Getting a driver’s license in the US is WAY to easy.

    A 17 year old as bright as a box of hammers can answer a few questions, parallel park a car, smile for the camera, and then get handed a license to drive a 4,000 lb killing machine.

    We need to make driving school mandatory for obtaining a license to drive.

    Drivers must learn how to drive in adverse conditions, they must know the basics of HOW the car operates, and what to do in the event of an emergency. Learning to operate a manual transmission, changing a spare tire, pumping your own gas, and the ability to identify excessively worn safety items like wiper blades, brakes, suspension components and tires should also be minimum requirements to obtaining a license.

    These skills should also be retested every time the license needs to be renewed.

    There are too many idiots on the road that have no business operating a machine that could kill themselves and others.

    -ted

    • 0 avatar
      ihatetrees

      Not gonna happen. The tradition in the US is not that of Europe – the distances in North America, the transport network, and large parts of the economy depend on many clueless people driving. And until we JAIL people who drive unlicensed, standards would be ignored by the degenerate underclass.

      I don’t disagree that tougher standards would be a good idea. Many people – especially women – would be much better drivers with training and the confidence it inspires.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      This is the ultimate problem. It would also be reasonable to say that the kind of person who needs to drive, and get’s no excitement or fun out of their vehicle is the kind of person who is completely clueless t how a car works, or what to do in an emergency situation. It would also be reasonable to assume that this kind of person buys a Toyota product over other brands. This would also explain an elevated case of mysterious problems such as UA accruing more on Toyotas then other brands. Now add to that some sort of actual fault, like sticky pedals and we get stories of these possessed cars running out of control.

    • 0 avatar
      DweezilSFV

      Zerofoo: In CA they’ve dropped the requirement for parallel parking AND for entering a freeway. But they’ve increased the fines for driving violations.I wonder if there’s a connection……

      Bottom line: every day more incompetent drivers hit the streets in Kali……

  • avatar
    poltergeist

    If you look at the shifter pattern on an ES 350, to the left of the “D” position is the “manual-shift” detents (+/-) that allow you to sequentially shift the transmision. My guess is in her panic the shifter got pulled to the left, then when she pushed the lever forward into what she thought was neutral/reverse/park, she was actually upshifting the trans, which if anything would cause the car to continue accelerating faster and faster with the throttle open (either by sticking pedal, floormat, incorrect foot placement etc). It really isn’t a great design in my opinion but if my hypothesis is correct, I think it’s entirely Ms. Smith’s fault for driving a car in which she didn’t understand the controls. I didn’t watch all the footage, but did any of our wonderful “representatives” ask her if she read the owner’s manual before driving the car?

  • avatar
    sco

    I’m not sure I’d hammer Rhonda for being incompetent behind the wheel – she did (alledgedly) put on the parking brake, shift into neutral, and try to turn off the engine,all before she called hubby according to her testimony. I’d be out of options at that point too

    I do however question her credibility, particularly given statements such as “I push the car into NEUTAL and it makes a revving noise” but later, “the speedometer it read 100 mph … while frantically shifting between ALL the gears (besides park) but mainly had it in REVERSE and with the emergency brake on.” The shifter works sometimes but not others, same with the gas pedal? Really? And then starts itself?

    Why would she make this up? Anger about being called wrong, perceived mistreatment, spite, the appeal of TV and the US Senate, pick from a long list of human frailties. But then selling car after the crusade, wow that’s low

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    The one HUGE missing hole in her story is how the car eventually slowed down after she literally tried everything. She said that God intervened.

    As a practicing but very much non-evangelical Christian, this just pisses me right the f)ck off. I tend to think God works on the basis of “grace” rather than “karma”, but even if I did, I would have issues with the virtue of someone who believes God saved them from their Japanese Christine and subsequently sells said Christine to some other family.

    It’s like asking God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit help you beat the rap. Somehow, I think you’ve missed the point.

  • avatar
    factcheck

    FACTCHECK

    – Mrs. Smith TRADED IN the car to Toyota of Kingston(TN). She did not sell the car to an individual.

    – The vehicle she was driving cannot be shifted into neutral while going at a certain rate of speed. She did physically put it in neutral, but the transmission is electronic and as a safety precausion, the vehicle will not let itself change gears like that, eventhough the shift lever moves into position.

    – The vehicle has a ‘fob’ for a key. After the incident, the vehicle was about to be pulled onto the rollback (wrecker) and the vehicle attempted to start itself. The wrecker had the fob and he was approximately 20-25 feet away. They have a notarized statement from the wrecker driver regarding this.

    – The vehicle was paid in cash and the Smith’s only attempted to get a refund on the car, which was denied. The car was less than 2 months old. Over the last 4 years, they never attempted to sue or gain anything other than recognition from Toyota that there is a problem and an apology.

    • 0 avatar
      CarPerson

      Where is it documented that a Lexus cannont be shifted into neutral above a certain speed?

      I’m aware of gear loading that may not readily let go under full power, keeping it in Drive but not any built-in provision preventing a shift of neutral at any speed.

      Please advise.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      You can shift these into N at ANY speed (so long as this is like the Toyota transmissions). The solenoids release piston pressure and the transmission planetary gears spin free. Reverse and park are mechanically locked out because the transmission will spit its guts all over the freeway if you go into those positions.

    • 0 avatar
      CamaroKid

      The vehicle she was driving cannot be shifted into neutral while going at a certain rate of speed. She did physically put it in neutral, but the transmission is electronic and as a safety precausion, the vehicle will not let itself change gears like that, eventhough the shift lever moves into position.

      That is COMPLETELY false. PERIOD… Even Dr Gilbert said this wasn’t the case. And yes I have driven a car EXACTLY like the one in question and YES I HAVE shifted into Neutral at triple digit speeds.

      The car locks out REVERSE. It does NOT lock out Neutral.

      Time to check some facts… factcheck.

    • 0 avatar
      crash sled

      “- The vehicle has a ‘fob’ for a key. After the incident, the vehicle was about to be pulled onto the rollback (wrecker) and the vehicle attempted to start itself. The wrecker had the fob and he was approximately 20-25 feet away. They have a notarized statement from the wrecker driver regarding this.”

      factcheck, I have a statement from the exorcist, who confirms that the self-starting demons have been expelled from the ES350, and the vampiric key fobs.

      “The power of Inaba compels you!”

  • avatar

    Ed, thanks. The WSJ account does seem to indicate she sold the thing rather than trading it. Although if she did, that is so egregious that it might bear checking. The WSJ is quite capable of making mistakes.

    REgarding the acceleration, and her shifting, the shifter, presumably, is also fly by wire, so isn’t it possible that the car was failing to respond to the shifter? I suppose it’s equally possible that she didn’t really know exactly where she was shifting. But I think it’s easier to assume that she doesn’t remember, or doesn’t know exactly what she was doing, given the stress she would have been under at the time, than that she is deliberately fabricating.

  • avatar
    97escort

    Rhonda Smith did nothing wrong. If I know car dealers the car was towed to a Toyota dealership and nothing wrong was found. To me what happened is similar to my computer crashing. I unplug it, reboot and everything is fine.

    The trouble with car computers crashing is that it happens at speed and lives are at stake. Toyota is at fault for designing a drive by wire system that fails in this manner.

    She now knew what the car was capable of doing and sold a perfectly good car per the dealership evaluation of what happened and the new owner did not experience any problems. She is honest and behaved honestly.

    I do not believe sellers have a responsibility to tell buyers of all the problems they have had with a car if they have been repaired/evaluated by qualified personel.

    Toyota is at fault for designed a computer controlled device that has safety implications on failure. These kinds of failures have not been reported in other brands. She bought the Toyota in good faith and her experience was unsatisfactory. Then she sold the car which has performed well for the new owner. There is no shame on anybody but Toyota.

    Always be wary of low mileage cars sitting on used car lots or at auctions. Why would anyone want to sell such a car unless their experience with it has been unsatisfactory?

    The seller has no obligation to tell all the bad luck he has had with the car if the car is in the condition represented at sale. This car was in good operating condition and working satisfactorily and the new owner put 27,000 miles on it. Shame on TTAC for trying to make Rhonda Smith look bad.

    • 0 avatar

      97escort: If she really thought it was a “perfectly good car”, what was she doing testifying on Capitol Hill?

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      “Why would anyone want to sell such a car unless their experience with it has been unsatisfactory?”

      I purchased my first minivan used with 4 months and 10k miles on the clock. We were told the car’s first owner was too feeble to climb up into the driver’s seat easily. We drove it an additional 9 years and 110k miles.

      Some people trade cars early because they can’t afford them.

      I traded a lemon Odyssey after the lemon suit concluded, even though everything was fixed by then. I also couldn’t afford the car. It had no safety-related issues, and the new owner could learn of the issues via Carfax, assuming they were reported.

  • avatar
    joeveto3

    Besides, had the buyer requested a CarFax, it would have clearly revealed any sort of demonic possession….

  • avatar
    Mungooz

    Many, if not most, of you are wrong. I, on the other hand, am right. Ms. Smith is a woman. Many, many women are terrified that their car might “go out of control” at any moment. I mean like when parking. When accelerating away from a stop. Even at 5mph! I’ve heard them ask: “What if the car goes out of control?” Ms. Smith was a woman who was terrified that her car might go out of control. Something went awry. Panic ensued. Nothing that she says happened actually happened. But just try to convince her of that.

    • 0 avatar
      cwmoo740

      It pains me a little to do this, but +1.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8g5xX6L6J2Q

      Example #2 in that video is clearly related to the SUA that Toyota owners are experiencing =].

  • avatar
    meefer

    It doesn’t matter whether she traded it in or not. The car is “possessed” and needs holy intervention to be stopped. It should have been destroyed, right? Maybe she should demand Toyota hire some priests to sprinkle holy water in the build process.

    I’m not trying to pick on Mrs. Smith, but most of this grandstanding is just a spit and polish of the unintended acceleration/saddle gas tank debacles.

    Oh and I have never heard of a neutral lockout on any Toyota vehicle. There is a reverse lockout and it is possible the entire tranny went nuts, but not being able to shift into neutral? I have shifted into neutral at 40 mph, how fast do I have to be going to activate this cutoff?

    • 0 avatar
      poltergeist

      As I recall from the movie Christine, destroying the demon car didn’t do any good…..

      and I join the call for “Factchecker” to provide some type of documentation to back up his “fact” that this car has a lockout that keeps the car from being shifted to neutral above a certain speed…

  • avatar
    Jerry Sutherland

    A thought occurred to me after reading all these “piling on the witness” comments…would this witness be more credible had she been driving a Sebring?
    I’m guessing that the lineup to post anti-Rhonda comments would have been shorter.

    • 0 avatar
      CarShark

      I doubt it. The Sebring may not be a wonderful car, but it (and Chrysler) doesn’t deserve to have its name dragged down by a bad witness. Posts like yours are tiresome, not just because they’re horribly predictable, but because the intent isn’t to further the conversation by providing a different perspective, but kill it by trying to shame everyone else into submission.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      I am not the slightest fan of the Sebring. It is one of the most awful cars sold today. That being said, I focus on the cars actual issues, like interior bits that don’t fit together, poor handling, ride, etc… That being said, If Mrs. Smith was testifying about a Sebring, I would be just as skeptical about here account.

    • 0 avatar
      fincar1

      Another Sebring non-fan here. Why drag in the Sebring at all given the apparent lack of unintended-acceleration claims against it?

    • 0 avatar

      I picked the unloved Sebring as an illustration of an unloved domestic on this forum. Yes,I do defend Detroit more than most on this forum and I will take heat for my position. It may be redundant, but I will stay the course on my message. I would like to feel guilty for my position, but that would be a reach. I stand by my original point that a domestic manufacturer would have considerably fewer allies on this issue in this forum. Incidentally, I agree that the Toyota hearings sre an incredible waste of time and money.

  • avatar
    littlehulkster

    I think the moral of this story is: never buy an automatic.

  • avatar
    forraymond

    She probably brought her Bible to the meeting with the lawyers. You know she is a “good Christian.” (lies and all)

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      It would be better to question her statement’s credibility than to attack her religion, whichever that may be.

      I think that David Holzman’s story (above) is the best explanation of what happened.

  • avatar
    OMG_Shoes

    Sure, sure, she shifted to Neutral and nothing happened, her demonically-possessed hell-car tried to start all by itself and Jaybob from the towin’ company swears she’s a-truthin’. Riiiight.

    Perhaps it took god six miles to intervene because he was busy checking to see if her car had any pre-existing conditions that would make it ineligible for godly intervention.

    I would say anyone deluded enough to believe in an imaginary magical sky fairy who is omnipotent, omniscient, controls everything and yet nevertheless has time to listen to one pathetic woman’s ignorant, blubbering prayer ought to be locked up in a padded cell, or at least denied a driver’s license.

  • avatar
    Steven02

    Why is everyone jumping on her case for selling the vehicle? Do you expect her to keep it? If she thinks it is a deathtrap, she probably doesn’t want it around her at all, or her family. With Toyota founding nothing wrong with the car and wouldn’t buy it back. What else do you expert her to do?

    She has be put through the mud with many of the comments on this site. What is her motivation for lying? This incident happen a few years ago, so the recent events probably only vindicate her story from a few years ago. There are probably a few details that she has wrong. But it doesn’t mean that this didn’t happen in some way close to the story that she told.

    • 0 avatar
      OMG_Shoes

      Everybody’s jumping on her case because she’s an ignorant moron.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      OMG_Shoes,
      She probably has the knowledge of an average American driver.

    • 0 avatar
      dcardno

      Why is everyone jumping on her case for selling the vehicle?
      Gee… I dunno – maybe selling a known deathtrap to another family might be a bit of a moral conundrum. On the other hand, if she thought there was really nothing wrong with it, selling the car would be just fine – even if it is entirely inconsistent with her sworn testimony to Congress.
      I’m curious – are you naturally thick as two short planks, or did you have to saw off your feet?

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      dcardno,
      Taking personal shots on the internet is a wonderful thing. Perhaps I should ask you if you can read. And by that, I mean read the other comments on this post.

      The car was traded in. Toyota was told about the problems with the car and did nothing at the time. What was she supposed to do with it? Toyota wouldn’t do a refund. The dealer knew of the problem. I guess we just expect her to keep the car in her garage for the next few years because lots of people can just afford to pay for a car that they don’t use.

      Had this scenario happened to you, your family, or spouse. And the reaction was the same. Would you be holding on to that car?

  • avatar
    criminalenterprise

    Maybe Toyota will start installing clutch pedals on its automatics.

  • avatar
    reclusive_in_nature

    Whole lotta character assassination tonight. How dare she say something negative about the venerable Toyota! She should be ridiculed just like all the other people that’s been investigated on this site for giving false testaments about Ford, GM, and Chrysler. Wait a sec…

  • avatar
    Michal

    Help Me Rhonda, Help Help Me Rhonda!

  • avatar
    JSF22

    We do not know anything after two days of Congressional posturing that we did not know before. But one thing of which we can be fairly certain is that if Rhonda Smith was at the wheel of an out-of-control Lexus going 100 mph, she didn’t simultaneously figure out how to make a phone call.

  • avatar
    ozibuns

    What it comes down to is the seemingly innate stupidy of many citizens coupled with a God-given right to their 15 minutes of fame. Anybody heard of similar claims from Toyota or Lexus customers overseas or did these nasty software/hardware gremlins decide to solely focus on America? What a farce. Shame on you America.

    • 0 avatar
      BuzzDog

      It could be something specific to models built and/or in the United States.

      It could be the fact that automatic transmissions are all but universal in the United States (which would make it much more common).

      Or, as someone opined in another thread, it could be mass hysteria…our very own modern-day version of South Korea’s fan death phenomenon, or reports in the 1950’s of mysterious windshield pockmarks (probably the damn Ruskies were to blame for that last one)…

  • avatar
    iNeon

    This is unacceptable behaviour. Christendom is passed at birth, and as such, is a semi-uncontrollable facet of a human-being’s identity– Christians are born of Christians as races are born of races, as boys are born of girls, and girls of boys. Some, through nature, choose to lighten/darken themselves– to change contouring of facial structures– to change gender or sex, or choose to take another religion. Some of these comments are attacks that need to be watched and edited.

    Please note that I am aware there is no guarantee of inoffensiveness in life; but also note I’m aware that no Toyota has previously been allowed to be called a poorly-engineered, weak Bhuddamobile. Mrs. Smith deserves the same respect.

    Editors: stop and remove these attacks now.

    • 0 avatar
      Michal

      Buddhamobile? Your post is the best troll I have seen in a while. You earn a cookie.

    • 0 avatar

      iNeon:

      1.) Your theory that Christendom is passed at birth is interesting. Please explain that to the missionaries who still try to convert every heathen they can get their hands on. Think about it: Any religion would be severely hampered if it could only be transmitted through birth.

      2.) I could care less whether you call a car a Buddhamobile (and I am married to someone who believes in Shinto and Buddha, they don’t need to sign a non-compete.) But some may take offense. I’d be as respectful of other religions as you expect others to be of yours.

      3.) I don’t understand most of your ramblings, but apparently, you are calling for deletion of comments. Be advised that what the editors do is the sole choice of the editors.

    • 0 avatar
      NickR

      iNeon, thanks for drawing attention to the scarcity of mental health resources.

  • avatar
    VerbalKint

    Didn’t she testify that while her car was careening out of control during what she felt was her last joy ride that she had time to phone her husband to say goodbye?

  • avatar
    Emro

    I love that she dropped the Bluetooth name in there… will she be in NASCAR next year?

  • avatar
    NickR

    I hope the people she sold the car to sue her. I mean, she admitted in Congress that because of some defect her life was critically endangered, yet she sold it anyway, presumably without disclosing her experience. If I didn’t believe her story, I’d sue her anyway.

  • avatar
    1996MEdition

    Has anyone checked the prices of low mileage Toyo’s or Lexi lately?

  • avatar
    iNeon

    This isn’t the first time I’ve been called crazy on a website– and it won’t be the last. I was simply using strong language to get the point of the double-standard being practiced across. It isn’t my fault you cannot understand abstract language.

    Maybe needing things spelled-out for you is a sign of an even weaker mind.

    There are numerous posts in this thread that step over boundaries and do nothing but disrespect Mrs. Smith for her status as a Christian woman. We are not allowed to do this with Mr. Toyoda in those threads, and I am simply calling for equality.

    I hope this is more clear.

    • 0 avatar
      Runfromcheney

      That is just the thing. None of us (at least not me) are jumping on Mrs. Smith because she is a Christian. We are jumping on her because she seems to be an ignorant moron who is riding an exaggerated sob story to her own fifteen minutes of fame. No disrespect, but “god intervened” is not a good way to explain how you managed to stop your out of control car when you are testifying in front of a major world government.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    I think maybe it’s entirely possible that this lady’s car got away from her, and of course she panicked. In an instance such as this many things can happen, and while maybe they did not happen in exactly the way she describes i’m sure that she see’s things in the way that she is describing.
    I’m sure that if the vehicle did speed out of control it did not take long for it to reach a high rate of speed. Like a lot of people maybe she did not react fast enough by shifting into neutral before the speed got excessive. Maybe she tried braking before trying to hit neutral, which would heat the brakes up excessively, making them less effective.
    It’s possible that by the time she hit neutral that the brakes were so hot that they would no longer work. She may have been so panic stricken that she might not even hit neutral, but thought she did, who knows?
    It looks like she obviously had the car in neutral,but who knows after how long, because the car finally came to a stop. I think that maybe out of panic she overheated the brakes before finally taking the car out of gear, that would expalin the car not wanting to stop with the brakes.
    Many things could have happened, and it’s unfair to pick on this person without being there to witness what actually did happen.

  • avatar
    bsgcic

    I think it is premature to point blame at Ms. Smith and certainly to discredit her claim against Toyota. I suggest the following:

    1. The fact that another family bought the vehicle indicates that either: a) She did not disclose the incidence of the unintended acceleration b) that she had the vehicle repaired prior to selling it and disclosed that fact or c) that she disclosed it and the new family bought it anyway perhaps at a heavily discounted price. My guess is that (a) is most likely because if she had it repaired, that would have served as evidence for congress. I would guess that (c) would be unlikely as I would hypothesize that the type of customer buying a Lexus for personal use would pay a premium for safety.
    2. Just because the new family has not experienced a recurrence of the unintended acceleration does not mean that it did not happen for Ms. Smith. Many Lexus vehicles have been sold and the occurrence of the unintended acceleration appears to be a small fraction of those cases. It is likely that for the unintended acceleration to occur, a unique mix of independent circumstances must all happen which most likely contributes to the difficulty in identifying, verifying, and diagnosing the cause. This type of problem-solving challenge is not so uncommon when developing technology (including software development which I do myself).

    My guess as to this is that: The incident did occur with Ms. Smith. However, Ms. Smith may have not disclosed that information to the new buyer which if true would be, among other things, reckless and unethical of Ms. Smith (if true!).

  • avatar
    YZS

    Why would you need to go to skip barber race driving school to learn what shifting into neutral does? Seriously, this is what’s wrong with America today. It’s basic knowledge that any driver should know, right up there with which pedal does what.


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