People “familiar with the findings” of NHTSA’s investigation into unintended acceleration in Toyotas tell the WSJ [sub] that after studying “dozens” of black boxes, the DOT has
found that at the time of the crashes, throttles were wide open and the brakes were not engaged… The results suggest that some drivers who said their Toyota and Lexus vehicles surged out of control were mistakenly flooring the accelerator when they intended to jam on the brakes.
The WSJ notes that this doesn’t exonerate Toyota from issues involving sticky pedals or floormat entrapment, both of which were subject to recalls. However:
The findings by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration involve a sample of reports in which a driver of a Toyota vehicle said the brakes were depressed but failed to stop the car from accelerating and ultimately crashing.
The data recorders analyzed by NHTSA were selected by the agency, not Toyota, based on complaints the drivers had filed with the government.
The findings are consistent with a 1989 government-sponsored study that blamed similar driver mistakes for a rash of sudden-acceleration reports involving Audi 5000 sedans.
NHTSA admits that is has yet to find any sign of a problem with Toyota’s electronic throttle control system, the main system targeted by Sean Kane, and congressional hearings. A more in-depth study, in partnership with NASA, is still underway.