By on May 30, 2010

This week, NHTSA came out and said that after a recount of their complaints database, they found 89 dead bodies in their computers, allegedly killed by evil runaway Toyotas. The MSM ate it up. If it bleeds, it leads. Even if it smells. In this article, we will show you the secrets of the incredible killing machine at NHTSA.

Of course it was one of those devilish coincidences that on the same day the House Energy And Commerce Committee convened and passed an amended version of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act. The act, if approved, gives sweeping powers to NHTSA. Maximum fines to automakers rise from $16.4m to 200m. Black boxes become mandatory in all new cars. Funding for NHTSA is doubled to $280m over 3 years. Drivers will pay a “vehicle safety user fee.” As far as the NHTSA is concerned, the 89 people in their computer died for a good cause: The advancement of the NHTSA. But did they really die?

It is an open secret that the NHTSA database is an invitation to fraud. There is no fact checking. Anybody can file on-line complaints at NHTSA without a VIN number. Anybody can file any bogus report with any number of deaths. It will stay in the database and will be counted.

For a closer look, I downloaded the complete NHTSA complaint database to my computer, all 400 Megabytes of them. With the help of Microsoft Access, I pulled all records for incidents with Toyotas since the year 2000, and where the culprit was “VEHICLE SPEED CONTROL.” I counted the deaths: 5727 complaints yielded 100 deaths in 78 cases. Didn’t the NHTSA say 89? Oh well, maybe the NHTSA overlooked some. They had made mistakes before. One third of the alleged deaths occurred in a vehicle with no reported VIN number.

I started looking at the reports.

First report, 4 dead, no VIN. Description: “LEICESTER, MASS. — POLICE SAY IT APPEARS THE FOUR TEENAGERS WHO WERE KILLED IN A CAR CRASH IN LEICESTER WERE WEARING THEIR SEAT BELTS, AS WAS THE LONE SURVIVOR.  LEICESTER POLICE CHIEF JIM HURLEY SAYS NEITHER ALCOHOL NOR DRUGS WAS A FACTOR IN THE CRASH.” Unintended acceleration?

Next one, no VIN, 3 dead, allegedly: “THREE PEOPLE WERE KILLED WHEN A CAR LOST CONTROL IN WHITTIER AND SLAMMED INTO A TREE. … IT WAS NOT CLEAR WHAT CAUSED THE CRASH, BUT DRIVERS OFTEN COME DOWN THE HILL AT DANGEROUSLY HIGH SPEEDS, SALAZAR SAID.” Unintended acceleration?

Next one, no VIN. 2 dead, allegedly. Happened May 31,2003. Reported to NHTSA 7 years later on April 1, 2010: “1994 TOYOTA CAMRY. CONSUMER STATES DISCONTENT REGARDING A FATAL ACCIDENT WITH THIS VEHICLE AND WONDERS IF DEFECTS WERE THE CAUSE. THE CONSUMER LOST CONTROL OF THE VEHICLE AND IT RAN OFF THE ROADWAY AND STRUCK A REINFORCED WALL.” Unintended acceleration?

Next one, no VIN, 2 dead, allegedly. Happened July 14, 2007. Reported to NHTSA February 16, 2010: “ON JULY 14, 2007 MY PARENTS WERE INVOLVLED IN A SINGLE-CAR CRASH IN THE RESIDENTIAL AREA OF NEW BLOOMFIELD, MO. MY 84-YEAR-OLD FATHER WAS DRIVING A 2004 TOYOTA AVALON, SUDDENLY LEFT THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE ROADWAY, FLIPPED THE VEHICLE, AND LANDED UPSIDE DOWN, BACK ON THE PAVEMENT. MY 79-YEAR-OLD MOTHER WAS KILLED INSTANTLY FROM HEAD TRAUMA, AND MY FATHER PASSED AWAY FROM INJURIES SUSTAINED IN THE ACCIDENT 7 WEEKS LATER. THE AUTHORITIES COULD NOT DETERMINE THE CAUSE OF THE ACCIDENT, AND MY FATHER COULD NOT REMEMBER ANY DETAILS … WE HAVE BEEN VEXED BY THE WHOLE INCIDENT, AND IT NEVER OCCURRED TO ME TO REQUEST HAVING THE AVALON INSPECTED (HIGHLY RATED VEHICLE AND ALL…), UNTIL ALL THE RECENT MEDIA OF OTHER DEATHS INVOLVING TOYOTA VECHICLES. I DO NOT HAVE THE VIN # AVAILABLE PRESENTLY, BUT CAN OBTAIN IT.” Unintended acceleration?

Next one, no VIN, 2 dead, allegedly. Happened Nov. 29, 2007. Reported to NHTSA February 16, 2010: “THE CONSUMERS FRIEND AND AN ACQUAINTANCE WERE INVOLVED IN AN ACCIDENT. ACCORDING TO THE REPORT, THE CONSUMER’S FRIEND PULLED OUT IN FRONT OF A TRUCK. THE CONSUMER DISAGREED WITH THE THEORY THAT HER FRIEND WOULD HAVE JUST PULLED OUT IN FRONT OF A TRUCK. THE CONSUMER BELIEVED HER FRIEND MAY HAVE EXPERIENCED SOME TYPE OF MECHANICAL PROBLEM WITH THE VEHICLE. WHEN THE CONSUMER ASKED HAD THE VEHICLE BEEN INSPECTED, SHE WAS TOLD THAT WAS NOT AN ISSUE. “Unintended acceleration?

This database has everything, including admissions of drunk driving (1 dead) and manslaughter:

“ON 10/17/09 AT ABOUT 5:40 PM, AFTER DRINKING A VODKA WITH ICE, MY HUSBAND AND I WENT TO DINNER IN OUR 2005 LS430 LEXUS. WE INTENDED TO GO TO DINNER A RELATIVELY SHORT DISTANCE AWAY. I TURNED ON MILITARY TRAIL, PROCEEDED TO THE LEFT LANE TRAVELING SOUTHBOUND TOWARDS NORTHLAKE BLVD, PALM BEACH GARDENS, FLORIDA. AS I APPROACHED A TRAFFIC LIGHT MY LEXUS UNEXPECTEDLY SPED UP. I TRIED TO APPLY THE BRAKE. THERE WERE CARS STOPPED IN FRONT OF ME AT THE RED LIGHT. DESPITE MY EFFORTS MY CAR CONTINUED TO ACCELERATE. I TOOK EVASIVE MANEUVERS TO AVOID THE STOPPED VEHICLES IN FRONT OF ME. THE LEFT TIRES OF MY LEXUS WENT UP ON THE CENTER MEDIAN AND MY CAR CONTINUED TO ACCELERATE THROUGH THE INTERSECTION. I MISSED THE VEHICLES STOPPED AT THE TRAFFIC LIGHT AND TRAVELLING THROUGH THE INTERSECTION. MY CAR WOULD NOT STOP ACCELERATING. I STRUCK A CORVETTE STOPPED IN THE LEFT NORTHBOUND LANE OF MILITARY TRAIL. AFTER STRIKING THE CORVETTE, I CONTINUED THROUGH THE SOUTHBOUND LANES UNTIL I INTENTIONALLY DROVE MY CAR INTO A FIRE HYDRANT IN ORDER TO STOP AND AVOID STRIKING GAS PUMPS AT A SHELL STATION. MY HUSBAND AND I WERE INJURED IN THIS CRASH. THE DRIVER OF THE CORVETTE PASSED AWAY. MY LEXUS IS STILL IN POLICE CUSTODY. NO REPAIRS HAVE BEEN MADE AT THIS TIME. I WAS CHARGED WITH DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE (MANSLAUGHTER), AND 3 OTHER CHARGES. I AM VIGOROUSLY FIGHTING THOSE CHARGES AS I WAS NOT IMPAIRED AND, AS EVIDENCED BY MY EVASIVE MANEUVERS, HAD CONTROL OF MY CAR. BUT FOR THE SUDDEN ACCELERATION, THIS ACCIDENT AND DEATH WOULD HAVE NOT OCCURRED. IN NOV. 2008, MY HUSBAND WAS DRIVING THE SAME LEXUS AND AS HE PULLED INTO OUR GARAGE THE CAR WOULD NOT STOP AND HIT CABINETS IN OUR GARAGE. LOOKING BACK AND COMPARING WHAT HAPPENED IN MY ACCIDENT ON 10/17/09 IT IS CLEAR THAT MY HUSBANDS EARLIER ACCIDENT WAS THE RESULT OF SOME SORT OF MALFUNCTION OF OUR LEXUS ACCELERATOR SYSTEM. NO REPAIRS WERE MADE TO THE VEHICLE AT THAT TIME.”

In that case, the driver was found with a blood alcohol level of .103. A search warrant was issued for the Sensing and Diagnostic Module of the Lexus. The data recorder found the vehicle “accelerating with no braking prior to crash and a speed of 49 mph at crash.” Unintended acceleration? Not according to court and police, but it counts for the NHTSA as one dead.

My head started to shake so hard, it did hurt. I gave up further analysis of this database. It is a sham. In many of the cases in that database unintended acceleration isn’t even alleged. Nevertheless, the cases are filed under “VEHICLE SPEED CONTROL” and bodies are counted. The ones that allege unintended acceleration are not investigated, but counted. There are many duplicates, upping the count, even triplicates: One ES350 crashes three times on the same day, killing 2 people each, bringing the carnage to six dead.  People are charged with DUI and manslaughter, but their victim counts. Police reports give causes for accidents such as “improper lane change” and say that there were no car defects. But the bodies count against Toyota.

Even without outright fraud, which this database invites, it is a collection of “the car made me do it” after people ran red lights, lost control when speeding, or were drunk. The real cases have documents, police reports etc. with them. As in the case of the drunk Lexus driver, the case could be quickly closed. But it is not. The ones without documents (such as the one with 4 deaths) should be thrown out immediately for lack of evidence. But they are not.

The people who run this database don’t need a $280m budget. They need a new job. Like counting the muskox population of Nome, Alaska. If they mess that up, there will be a career-limiting outcry from PETA to the Sierra Club. But their work on that collection of crooks and liars will remain unpunished.

What I don’t understand is that the MSM didn’t dig deeper into that morass. Never was investigative journalism easier. 100 people dead. Hundreds of millions of dollars involved. And the research can be done without getting one’s behind out of the chair in front of the computer. With that, I hand you over to our frequent commentator Carquestions who looked a bit deeper into that database.

PS: If you have nothing better to do, a file with the alleged dead since 2000 can be downloaded here in easy Excel format. For further investigation, go to the NHTSA complaint database and input the ODINO for the record you want to research. Do not shake your head violently, serious trauma may occur.

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43 Comments on “89 Dead In The NHTSA Complaint Database? It’s A Sham...”


  • avatar

    Don’t let 4chan find out about this, there will be millions, or even billions dead!

  • avatar
    thebeelzebubtrigger

    Clearly, it’s our duty to immediately file as many bogus reports of fatalities as possible. That might result in forcing NHTSA to stop this idiocy.

    • 0 avatar
      thebeelzebubtrigger

      Here it is, one complaint filed by yours truly :)

      —–begin paste————————————–

      Office of Defects Investigation (ODI)

      Safety Complaint Confirmation
      Your Complaint Information is successfully submitted.

      Your Confirmation number (ODI Number) is: 10333876

      Your Complaint Information
      Acknowledgement
      An e-mail was sent to
      [EMAIL ADDRESS REDACTED]

      Complaint Information
      Description: I was driving my Toyota Prius when, suddenly and without warning, it accelerated all by itself! Demons had infested the steering, brakes, and shifter so it was impossible for me to do anything but watch in horror as the car mowed down one innocent pedestrian after another!
      Approximate Incident Date: 5/28/2010
      Your responses to the questions regarding the incident:
      Num. Deaths: 24 Property Damage: Yes
      Num. Injured: 89 Crash: Yes
      Fire: Yes Police Report: Yes

      Vehicle Information
      VIN:
      Year, Make, Model: 2009, TOYOTA, PRIUS
      Failure Mileage: 22431
      Speed: 75
      Vehicle Component Information
      Component 1: UNKNOWN OR OTHER

      Consumer Information
      Name: Vulvania Paradisio
      Daytime Phone: [PHONE NUMBER REDACTED] Ext:
      Evening Phone: [PHONE NUMBER REDACTED]
      E-mail: [EMAIL ADDRESS REDACTED]
      Fax:
      Address: 666 Devil Dog Ln
      City, State, Zip: Lithia Springs, GA 30122
      Country: USA
      Referral Source: Other

    • 0 avatar

      No Records found for the following criteria. Please click on the New Search button and modify your search criteria.
      Report Date : May 30, 2010 at 03:22 PM
      ODI Numbers Searched: 10333876

      Maybe the database won’t update over the weekend …

    • 0 avatar
      thebeelzebubtrigger

      The email confirmation they sent says, “Thank you for filing your safety-related complaint via our Web site or our Vehicle Safety Hotline.
      Please allow at least two business days for approval and processing before trying to view your complaint online.
      Your Confirmation number (ODI Number) is: 10333876.”

      So apparently they have some process of “approval”. Maybe I shouldn’t have used the Devil Dog Lane address, it is kind of a tip off. :)

  • avatar

    Thanks for your work, Bertel! This is just another example for the uselessness of MSM.

  • avatar
    segfault

    Here’s a news report on the LS430 crash in Florida. Driver was geriatric and drunk:
    http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/crime/woman-charged-with-dui-homicide-in-october-fatal-112955.html

    “As Goldberg was being helped from her car, she said she couldn’t find the brake, the report said. Paramedics reported smelling alcohol on her breath.”

  • avatar
    YotaCarFan

    “Happened May 31,2003. Reported to NHTSA 7 years later on April 1, 2010: “1994 TOYOTA CAMRY.”

    Uhhhh, How do you crash a 1994 MY car in May of 2003? I know the automakers have recently been increasing the MY earlier and earlier in the year, but IIRC back in the 90s, the new model year cars would arrive at the dealers around September the year before the calendar caught up withe the MY.

    “CONSUMER STATES DISCONTENT REGARDING A FATAL ACCIDENT WITH THIS VEHICLE AND WONDERS IF DEFECTS WERE THE CAUSE.”

    Right. The person thinks his/her defective car killed someone, and he/she is merely expressing “discontent”? What was fatally killed, a squirrel?

  • avatar

    A friends ’74 Ranchero used to try to bite the driver in the butt, does that count? I also was the long time owner of a Chevy C-20 with towing package. I have seen thru the rear view mirror this self-same C-20 smite the hell out of people who were walking harmlesslessly behind THE STOPPED TRUCK! Dropped like flies,had to take to warning folks, don’t walk behind the truck when it is stopped.

  • avatar
    JimothyLite

    “What I don’t understand is that the MSM didn’t dig deeper in that morass.” Bertel, the question nearly contains the answer: more ass. What better way to describe our swallow-it-whole journalists who have no interests outside of “rah-rah-rah”-ing whatever trash is vomited out of today’s Congress? Scheisse heads.

  • avatar

    This is so pathetic, NHTSA adds more casualties to the SUA but it’s NHTSA who can’t prove SUA exists in the first place.
    Both the fabrications and the mistakes are so obvious. The NHTSA has today as much credibility as Fidel Castro and his government.
    The sad thing is that we will see more and more of this in the future as the administration will need to distract the people’s attention from the Golf’s BP disaster. I’m not sure how many realize that the crude oil is a carcinogenic material and it makes all the fish in the Golf practically uneatable for who knows how many generations as BP will never cleanup the waters and the shores because, let’s be honest, that’s an impossible task.

  • avatar

    Firsty thank you to TTAC and Bertel for the mention. I also experienced a slack jawed expression when looking through the complaints but surprisingly found it to be a real page turner and couldn’t stop myself. The complete absense of screening is breathtaking, example 10074472 and 10171110 are jointly listed 4 times and the investigator says in part the following;

    “driver was headed through the mobile home park to loop around and go back to highway. It seems as if she was confused about here locations and also unfamiliar with her car and when she wanted to hit the brake she hit the gas instead.”

    If nothing else, NHTSA a federal government agency is insulting Police investigators on a national scale by discounting their conclusions and substituting their own.

    The driver was female and at the time of the accident was 87 years old. The police never suggest any defects with the car. The single death was listed each time under different complaints such as automatic transmission, air bags and vehicle speed control. The complainant mentions her attorney in the complaint.

    Maybe we should start our own contest here for the most outrageous complaint. Edmunds’ has their million dollar contest, what about TTAC? I’ll pledge $50 cdn

    • 0 avatar

      “If nothing else, NHTSA a federal government agency is insulting Police investigators on a national scale by discounting their conclusions and substituting their own. ”

      Not just that, insulting the intelligence of all the people in this country.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    CONSUMER STATES DISCONTENT REGARDING A FATAL ACCIDENT WITH THIS VEHICLE…

    Hell, the consumer must be annoyed, considering he/she has the will to rise from the grave and submit a complaint to the NHTSA.

  • avatar
    pariah

    Y’know, all things considered, I think letting 4chan know about this might be exactly what’s needed to blow the lid off this whole thing…

  • avatar
    DanM

    Bertel Schmitt: This post is one of the reasons I still visit TTAC daily, despite disagreeing with many of the opinions here. It’s wonderful to see that commitment to editorial “truth” is still alive at TTAC. If the Washington Post still had the journalistic skill and integrity to publish something like this, they’d be looking for an award.

    Kudos!
    dan.

  • avatar
    porschespeed

    NHTSA’s reporting procedure is a sham. Yup.

    In other news, properly watered grass is green, and the sun will rise in the east.

    If one follows the dreaded “MSM” one also is keenly aware that US police departments routinely, deliberately, mis-categorize crimes to make the stats look better.

    If this is shocking to anyone, I do really wonder if they are actively involved in the governance of their country.

    • 0 avatar

      That’s all you have to say in defense?

      The cop pulls you over, kicks in your tail light for cause, and in frustration of not finding anything, he cites you for driving with improper equipment? Just because that happens, it’s not worth more than a shrug?

      If this is shocking only to those who are not “actively involved in the governance of their country,” then something is seriously wrong with those who are.

      Toyota should demand their 16.4m back.

    • 0 avatar
      porschespeed

      Defense? Not really. Acknowledgment of ‘facts on the ground’ is my perspective.

      I vote against this stuff, but, more realpolitik-y, work those I know in the halls of power.

      Corruption is a fact of life in all societies, the only thing that varies is the degree to which it effects the average citizen.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    We already knew all this.

    It’s not the least bit shocking that MSM swallowed it whole – that’s the state of mainstream journalism. Woodward and Bernstein don’t do the automotive beat.

    But it remains true that Toyota is having sudden unintended acceleration problems – despite what the autoblogoshphere would like to promote, all SUA cases have not been found to be pedal misapplication.

    A really useful example of investigative journalism would be to find out why this happens more to Toyotas than to Buicks.

    • 0 avatar
      wmba

      “…all SUA cases have not been found to be pedal misapplication.”

      Beyond entrapped pedals by mats, what else is there?

      Perhaps you could enlighten me, since you seem so sure. There has been no sign of anything else beyond blue sky musing about electronics to my knowledge.

      Certainly none in Canada, where 10 people at DOT somehow manage to sift the complaints properly, unlike 280 folks at NHTSA, and where our politicians huff and puff trying to emulate their American cousins by flaming Toyota for late reporting, which seems to be the only crime so far.

      Do us a favour and let us in on these mystery cases.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      There is at least one person, Kevin Haggerty, who appears to have experienced wide open throttle without floor mat entrapment or pedal misapplication.
      http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/hunterdon-county/express-times/index.ssf/2010/01/recalled_toyota_owners_acceler.html
      This one case is a golden opportunity for engineers because Kevin drove his car to a Toyota dealership while the problem was occurring, allowing independent observation of an intermittent problem and a chance to bag and tag parts removed. Information from this one case is infinitely more useful than government data from the dead drunk grandma cases.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      I had my own pedal misapplication incident in a BMW recently. I had to stop quick and didn’t move my foot far enough over to the brake and caught the accelerator with the edge of my foot. I have a manual so nothing bad happened, just the engine revving. It does happen.

      And by the way – I didn’t report the incident to NHTSA. It’s not in the database. So there is at least one SUA incident by a non-toyota that’s not in the database. There are probably more.

    • 0 avatar
      wmba

      @ George B:

      Interesting case in the Lehigh Valley. That sounds like the Irish/British incidents, and is a real one all right. The European cases featured a sticking pedal back in 2007/8. So there are indeed a minute number of the plastic sticking accelerators, which the recall was supposed to handle for CTS pedals. I wonder if the Avalon has a CTS pedal, because I cannot remember if the Avalon is assembled in NA or Japan. If the latter, the pedal is probably a Denso. Hmm.

      Since my earlier comment above in this thread, I have seen a further edition of the Canadian Parliamentary Transport Select Committee questioning the CEO of Toyota Canada, the sales organization in my country. He was accompanied by some guy named Tanaka from Toyota Japan, who was a total bust, IMO. Sat there and scowled. His world was tipped on its side during this session.

      Whereas a couple of months ago, Toyota made the MPs look unprepared, and Mr. Toyoda just sat there looking unhappy, this time, after reading 9,000 pages of Toyota documents submitted since March, the MPs pretty well shot Toyota down with pure logic.

      It seemed pretty clear to me that without doubt, Toyota took about 11 weeks too long to recall the Venza floor mats in Canada, and skated very close to, or over, our legislated rules for notifying owners of a problem. The Toyota Canada CEO blustered about this and that, and never answered the questions properly.

      Apparently, each little local Toyota Empire reports only to Head Office in Japan, where pointy-headed engineers, in the fullness of time, decide whether a problem is severe enough to warrant a recall, or maybe a lowly TSB where the customer gets to pay, or maybe nothing at all.

      Each little local Toyota Empire does not talk to all the other little local Toyota Empires. Hence Toyota Europe did not inform Toyota Canada about the 2007 and 2008 pedal recalls. Nor was the Toyota Canada CEO interested enough to find out more for himself at the time, and professed no knowledge of the European situation, which we here on TTAC knew about last fall. Too busy to be interested in Toyota problems elsewhere, apparently, and definitely not proactive in keeping himself up to date.

      Fail, big time.

      No, Toyota Canada submits their problems to the engineers in Japan, and they decide the fate of Canadian Toyota customers. By analogy, the cars could be all driving into lakes, but unless Japan H.O. says “fix it!”, Canadians would continue to drown.

      This is against Canadian law, because once Toyota Canada knows there is a problem, a recall must be initiated . The CEO said that he officially can’t decide if there is a problem, even if he has a problem he has asked Toyota Japan to investigate, because only Toyota Japan can decide if there is a problem! Talk about bureaucracy! Read that last sentence again.

      He was given a lecture on this point by several MPs, and deservedly so, IMO. Toyota has to wake up on this point. Canada couldn’t care less whether some engineers in Japan decide on a recall. Our law doesn’t recognize Toyota Japan, but Toyota Canada, and it is their responsibility to get on the case, regardless of Toyota’s Japanese bureaucracy. Expect some explicit changes in the law in clear prose to make this kind of time-wasting “deliberation/investigation” illegal.

      One MP on the government side opined that Toyota Japan treated its subsidiaries like mushrooms — keep ‘em in the dark and feed them you know what, or maybe absolutely nothing at all – and that Toyota’s behaviour was unacceptable. This point was made in regard to Venza floor mats in particular, since nobody could figure out why it took 11 weeks to figure out that, yup, the mats could make the throttle stick, after Transport Canada told Toyota Canada to fix the problem on Oct 2. Eleven weeks for some engineers in Japan to agree! There may be criminal charges in this case — lawyers are studying the case.

      Toyota appears to have a bureaucracy fully capable of making civil servants blush…….

      Toyota is putting in an engineering center in Michigan for the US, to allow quicker response, but have no plans for a Canadian equivalent. The MPs pointed out that they had better figure out a quicker method here as well, however it’s handled.

      The Toyota Canada CEO twisted and squirmed under questioning, but had no logical response, and tried to baffle ‘em with BS. Did not work.

      So, I’m prepared to rescind the tone of my earlier comment above in this thread, because Toyota, at the very least, seems to try to delay things beyond a reasonable period of time.

      The leading government MP on the Committee got so exasperated at the non-replies, he just shook his head and stopped asking questions at one point. It’s hard to talk to a brick wall of illogic.

      The $16.4 million fine in the US now seems completely justified to me after witnessing this sorry performance. Didn’t think I’d ever come to this conclusion, but those Toyota guys had a BIG fail in front of the Members of Parliament, and exited extremely bruised, with logic entirely against them.

      Sorry this is so long, but I wanted to write this down somewhere – our media seem to not have covered this well at all. Typical of them.

      As for the NHTSA database, it’s as bad as it seems. Read a lot of it last winter, and pretty much came to the conclusions as this article.

      Looks like a bit more accountability all around would not go amiss.

  • avatar

    Dynamic – Not to be overly dramatic about it but you seem to have information that no one in the USA currently has – your statement “all SUA cases have not been found to be pedal misapplication.” This is big news to put it mildly – could you tell me one investigation that wasn’t investigated and found to be brake pedal misapplication? The owners name, date, place, model of car etc. – any of specifics at all would help. I have a contact that has been directly involved with all the NHTSA/Toyota investigations and can verify any claim such as you have.

    • 0 avatar
      Dynamic88

      Sure, happy to oblige, both you and wmba

      “What else is there” isn’t proof – it’s a conclusion based on lack of evidence. The NHTSA is saying they can’t find the problem, therefore it must be driver error. It’s sort of what the lawyers cal res ipsa loquitur “the thing speaks for itself”. e.g. We havn’t found anything, therefore it’s driver error.

      The amazing thing to me is that everyone is quite happy to call NHTSA incompetent to set up a complaint system, or compile an accurate data base. Yet many seem perfectly happy with NHTSA’s “ability” to correctly diagnose the “cause” of SUA. My position is that NHTSA is uniformly incompetent in all their undertakings.

      Toyota’s SMART team seems primarily responsible for discrediting drivers, and their involvement in accident “investigation” is yet another example of NHTSA’s incompetence. There is also the secretiveness of not being able to read the black box w/o Toyota’s help – though of course Toyota has now made more laptops available.

      Neither NHTSA or the proprietary SMART team impresses me with the accident investigation capabilities.

      Res Ipsa would be a fine way to deal with this if we were getting approximately the same % of complaints for each brand of auto. But we aren’t.

      For about the 22 millionth time, there are more reports -even more false/sham/unverifiable/no VIN no. reports of SUA with Toyotas than with Buicks. You have either to entertain conspiracy theories that people are sitting at their computers making false reports to damage Toyota, or you have to acknowledge that this is happening more to Toyota drivers than Buick drivers.

      If it’s all down to pedal misapplication please explain why there are wildly different levels of reporting for different brands. If you like the idea that the befuddled elderly don’t know where their feet are, fine, simply explain to me why Buick isn’t the leader in SUA.

      As Mr. Schmitt has pointed out previously, Toyota isn’t the only comnpany with complaints, or even the highest in relation to market share. But there are still wildly differing levels of reporting for different manufacturers. If it were merely driver error, independent of age, we’d expect rough uniformity. If it’s driver error primarily by the elderly, we’d expect Buick to have more SUA than Toyota. Neither of these are true, and therefore we have reason to suspect NHTSA’s finding of “cause”.

      Now Mr. Schmitt is talking about deaths, and I agree with him that the number is unverifiable due to the nature of NHTSA’s “database”. I’m talking about all SUA cases, not just the supposed “deaths”.

      http://safecars.wordpress.com/2010/03/16/the-easy-and-wrong-way-out/

      http://safecars.wordpress.com/2010/03/08/toyota-playing-its-version-of-russian-roulette/

    • 0 avatar

      You promised us cases.

      Where are they? Properly researched, they could make you rich. Edmunds would pay you a million, and the lawyers who are after Toyota would surely give you a percentage of the judgment.

      And props for the new line of reasoning: We all know that NHTSA is stupid, stupid as they are, they can’t find the problem, which proves beyond doubt that there is a problem.

    • 0 avatar
      Dynamic88

      Bertell

      I did not promise cases. What I said is that all (as in each and every) cases have not been proven to be pedal misapplication. NHTSA simply doesn’t know what is causing SUA in many cases, and is claiming driver error as the cause.

      This does not mean that there are not some cases of pedal misapplication. It’s very possible for there to be more than one cause.

      The fact that NHTSA can’t find the problem doesn’t prove there is/is not a problem. So props right back at you for your line of reasoning – e.g. NHTSA can’t find the cuase, attriubutes it to driver error, therefore there is no problem.

      The fact that there are many reports of SUA, and that they are unevenly distributed amongst manufacturers suggests there is a problem, and that it is not merely pedal misapplication – otherwise the distribution would be roughly even.

    • 0 avatar

      Thank you.

      As we are in a country where one is innocent until proven guilty, Toyota is innocent.

      I’m admittedly emotional in these matters. I worked for VW when Audi supposedly had SUA problems. Audi’s USA Marketing Chief was my friend. It nearly killed Audi in the USA. I have firsthand experience of what they went through. They knew quite quickly what the reason was. Driver error. They kept their mouth shut. They were slaughtered in 60 minutes in a fraudulent hatchet job. My friend finally blurted out the infamous “those Americans just can’t drive.” All hell broke loose.

      Later, NHTSA confirmed driver error. Brake interlock became standard to protect the driver from stupidity. To this day, Audi is still in court for a class action lawsuit from back when.

      The Audi case created the dogma at NHTSA that unintended acceleration is a product of fantasy. Up until recently, one could enter any SUA complaint into the database, and nothing happened. Why the sudden witch hunt against Toyota, while nobody bothers the other manufacturers is left as an exercise to the student.

    • 0 avatar

      Dynamic88 – It’s more a case of “Suggestio Fasli” than “Res Ipsa Loquitur” You have it exactly backwards when you say “Res Ipsa would be a fine way to deal with this if we were getting approximately the same % of complaints for each brand of auto. But we aren’t.” If you wanted to use Res Ipsa Loquitur you would have to prove that SUA happened in Toyotas only and therefore there was no other possible explanation since this doesn’t happen with other makes of cars. If your position was it happened in other makes as well as Toyotas then you would be suggesting there could be multiple reasons which of course would defeat the doctrine “it speaks for itself” In law school they call this shooting yourself in the foot. – here’s a NJ Appellate court ruling on using Res Ipsa Loquitur;

      In the ordinary case, negligence is never inferred; it must be proven. Buckelew, supra, 87 N.J. at 525. Res ipsa loquitur, however, permits a plaintiff the advantage of an inference of negligence to discharge the burden of proving negligence. Vespe v. DiMarco, 43 N.J. 430, 436-37 (1964). The doctrine, however, does not shift the burden of proof to the defendant. Eaton v. Eaton, 119 N.J. 628, 638 (1990).

      The three elements which must be established before res ipsa loquitur applies are as follows:
      “(1) the accident which produced a person’s injury was one which ordinarily does not happen unless someone was negligent, (2) the instrumentality or agent which caused the accident was under the exclusive control of the defendant, and (3) the circumstances indicated that the untoward event was not caused or contributed to by any act or neglect on the part of the injured person.”

      Dynamic – did you see the last rule? You take for granted how MSMs plays with statistics. For instance we have all fallen for the initial premise “X amount of deaths/manufacturer” How about we look at X amount of deaths/model? One is equally as valid as the other and you could argue the latter is more useful since it narrows it down to an exact model.

      If we look at models I believe The Buick LeSabre is King by a long shot since George Weller used one to kill 10 people in one shot. Using NHTSA’s method of inference I can now state that the LeSabre has been linked to more SUA deaths per accident than any other model in history. So in one sense Buick is a leader in SUA, contrary to what you state.

      And lastly you of course are aware that Toyota only had 19 deaths attributed to it prior to the Nov 09 class action lawsuit aren’t you? You do know the plaintiffs in the Audi case changed their claim six times from the initial “car has a defective part/system” to the last one “car was improperly designed and should have prevented me from stepping on the gas before shifting”?

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      What about the whole thing that happened on Paul Niedermeyer’s Scion?

      TTAC: Toyota Unintended Acceleration Experienced First Hand

      While not an officially federally verified case of SUA, I give Mr. Niedermeyer enough benefit to believe that his throttle stuck open without mat entrapment.

    • 0 avatar
      Dynamic88

      Thanks for the explanation of Res Ipsa. I’m not really sure you’re correct, as Res Ipsa has been used in airline cases and it wasn’t necessary to show that only one type of plane had a problem. But I’m not a lawyer so I’ll have to take your word for it.

      The more important point, at least to me, is what the court said in the ruling you cite – In the ordinary case, negligence is never inferred; it must be proven. While it’s unfair to Toyota to infer negligence w/o proof, it’s equally unfair to infer negligence on the part of the driver w/o proof.

      The main point is “We can’t find anything, therefore it’s driver error” isn’t evidence. Sometimes driver error can be proven – the driver admits stepping on the wrong pedal, or a reputable witness states that the brake lights never came on – and sometimes it can’t.
      Simply calling it driver error because we don’t know what else to call it isn’t proving anything.

      It would be nice to have a breakdown by model. And yes, we can be creative with statistics.

  • avatar

    Bertel,

    You might want to change “from the year 2000″ to “since the year 2000.” My initial read was that you found 100 cases for a single calendar year.

    Could the difference between your number and theirs be the duplicates and other iffy cases cited?

    I don’t see likely fraud here. I do see a lot of cases where at this point it’s hard and even impossible to say what happened, even with thorough fact checking. It does seem likely that, if it were somehow possible to know how many cases were due to UA, that number would be lower. But at the same time there are likely other unreported cases.

    The main thing that concerns me is that no one seems to really know what is going on, even this far in.

    • 0 avatar
      Patrickj

      This is a case of American vs. British (influenced, in Bertel’s case) English. The expression “from the year 2000″ carries the meaning “since” in British English.

      I see Bertel has changed it.

    • 0 avatar
      Dynamic88

      The main thing that concerns me is that no one seems to really know what is going on, even this far in.

      That’s my main concern as well. We really don’t know.

    • 0 avatar

      “That’s my main concern as well. We really don’t know.”

      Fellas – It’s more like we really don’t believe all the published reports on SUA like “An Examination of Sudden Acceleration” a legitimate study conducted by legitimate scientists and used in countless SUA court cases. We also refuse to believe the thousands of investigations Toyota has completed. We also refuse to believe the data on hundreds of investigations conducted by Toyota and NHTSA and dozens of Police departments around the country that in every case have shown driver error. We reject the automotive history of the past 100 years because it doesn’t show a single example of a vehicle accelerating by itself. We do not accept the fact that every MSM outlet and auto website on the planet cannot find a single example of a failed component to show the world.

      As proof of our convictions we look to the NHTSA complaints, Automotive consultants, Sean Kane, David Gilbert, Rhonda Smith, William Rosenbluth and sometime reporter Brian Ross.

      It’s like a patient dying of a fatal desease that goes doctor shopping hoping to find a cure. You’ll always find a quack when you need one but it won’t change the facts. Come on fellas join the 21 century, science is the answer – I’ve never fixed a car with a story.

  • avatar

    From changed.

    The difference of 11 could be the dupes, or maybe not. Impossible to reconcile. The VINs (if present) are truncated. It doesn’t really matter.

    To be clear:

    I am not alleging fraudulent reports by the government. I maintain that the method of data capture invites fraudulent reports. With so much at stake, the temptation is way too high.

    Many of these reports look like attempts at the “Toyota defense.” If you killed someone, and it was in a Toyota, then it was Toyota’s fault. If you got a speeding ticket – unintended acceleration. People become very creative when it comes to these matters, and filing a report with the NHTSA doesn’t need a high IQ.

    With gadzillions at stake, the temptation of negative ballot stuffing is likewise too high.

    By going through the data, it becomes evident that the methodology of categorizing cases as “VEHICLE SPEED CONTROL” is highly suspect. There are many cases where the complaint does not allege unintended acceleration, and yet the case is classified as “VEHICLE SPEED CONTROL”.

    Furthermore, cases which have been investigated by police and homicide investigators, and where it was decided that it was the driver’s fault, must be thrown out.

    Reports without a VIN should not be accepted. How is the manufacturer supposed to track a complaint if the car is not identified? If you can’t go to the trouble of finding the VIN, you have no business of alleging that the car killed someone. You don’t file your taxes without an SS#, you don’t make vehicular murder claims without a VIN. The VIN is the key to owner, dealer, and car history. It can serve as a tool for plausibility control. If the VIN doesn’t match the model and year, something is wrong. As demonstrated by Carquestions, this plausibility control is not apparent even when there are VIN numbers. A serious system would flag in-congruences, it doesn’t happen here.

    In summation, the database is useless. Gigo. Too much chaff, not enough wheat. Reporting 89 deaths based on these data is reckless at best. I know, they will always say that they published “alleged deaths.” In the public’s mind, an “alleged murderer” is a murderer, and “alleged deaths” are a carnage.

    If the system is meant as a bulletin board for people to vent grievances, fine. If it’s meant as an early warning system for internal use, fine. The minute statistical inferences are drawn from this data-set, my hair stands on end. Counting bodies based on this collection of highly dubious data is reckless. Used for political purposes, it turns into a smear campaign that makes Richard Nixon look like a saint.

    • 0 avatar
      ihatetrees

      Many of these reports look like attempts at the “Toyota defense.” If you killed someone, and it was in a Toyota, then it was Toyota’s fault. If you got a speeding ticket – unintended acceleration. People become very creative when it comes to these matters, and filing a report with the NHTSA doesn’t need a high IQ.

      +1.

      Also, other manufacturers may want to hold the schadenfreude. This statistically ass-clowned database is a potential gun that can be pointed an any manufacturer.

      Gotta problem with that pending GM IPO? Perhaps you “know” of a few Malibu SUA incidents with the new six speed slushbox and can “help” the public/market by adding them to the NHSTA database?

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    “89 Dead In The NHTSA Complaint Database!”

    Wow, the database sounds like an even more dangerous place to be than a run-away Toyota! ;oD

  • avatar
    Angainor

    The NHTSA Complaint Database: Brought to you by the very same people that will soon be managing your health care. And your financial system. And your energy industry.


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