By on July 22, 2013

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Noriko Uno was killed in 2009 when her 2006 Toyota Camry sudenly accelerated to 100 MPH, resulting in her leaving the roadway and hitting a telephone pole and a tree in the median. Today, jury selection begins in a California lawsuit filed by her survivors.

 

The lack of a brake-override system on her Camry, a device that Toyota has since implemented, is expected to be a major issue raised by the plaintiffs. Brake-override systems deactivate the throttle when the brake pedal is pressed. While it is not clear if any car sold today has brakes that cannot stop the car even when the engine is at full throttle, car companies, government safety agencies and consumers have embraced brake-overrides to prevent unintended acceleration, or at least make consumers feel safer. The Uno is considered to be a bellwether as it is the first unintended acceleration case filed against Toyota to go to trial. A previous case, involving two fatalities in a 2008 Camry was settled out of court. Last week, Toyota agreed to a billion dollar settlement over economic losses to owners of Toyota cars, losses supposedly caused by the recalls Toyota initiated to address the unintended acceleration issue.

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110 Comments on “Toyota Unintentional Acceleration Wrongful Death Trial Begins...”


  • avatar
    carlisimo

    Did they ever determine the cause of this one – wrong pedal, mat keeping throttle pedal down, stuck pedal, or computer error?

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      The isoftware and support was not available to read the computer/ecu. So it ended up as a big cover up.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes – the cause of this accident was that she bought a mass produced econobox instead of fine German engineering.

      • 0 avatar
        gslippy

        Audi never had a problem like this. …end cheap shot…

      • 0 avatar
        Piston Slap Yo Mama

        A more in-depth examination might help. The off-duty cop who couldn’t get his Camry to stop resulting in his death and the death of his family makes sense when you know the facts. He experienced a stuck throttle and did successfully slow his car down at first … and continued down the highway while considering his options. What he wasn’t aware of was that his brakes had become extremely hot from the prolonged usage and as brake fade set in they became ineffective. The throttle overpowered the overheated brakes and off he went. He had a start button ignition so couldn’t turn the ignition off and the transmission had a solenoid that prevented shifting under acceleration so he couldn’t shift into neutral. He then ran out of road … and died.

        Chances are something similar happened to the other people who died from Toyota’s stuck throttles. Yes, brakes will stop a runaway car. Once. Only once. But if they’re already heat-soaked you’d best hope you have a regular ignition that you can turn off or you’ll have a potentially fatal rollercoaster ride ahead of you. Somehow this aspect of the lawsuit gets lost on most people. I guess it’s easier to just feel superior because an unfortunate series of failures hadn’t yet killed you. The takeaway is it’s not as black & white as you think it is.

        • 0 avatar
          jeremy1001

          You would think the start button would also turn the engine off if need be.

          • 0 avatar
            Tomifobia

            They do, but the technique varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. In Toyota’s (Lexus’, actually) I believe the button has to be held down for 3 seconds. You’d have to read the owner’s manual to know this, but I doubt would have done so, seeing as how the ES he was driving was a rental.

            Keys need to make a comeback.

          • 0 avatar
            redav

            In another entry into “Newer is not the same as better,” I have yet to see any function that push-button start outperforms a key.

            For my own needs, a key that can easily put into position to just leave the radio on v. turn on all electronics (similarly turn off the engine but leave on the radio) is quite valuable & common, and I haven’t seen a consistent & logical approach for this in cars with push-button start.

          • 0 avatar
            Power6

            I like the keyless systems because leaving the key in the pocket is great.

            But the button baffles me. If you push it without the brake pressed you get accessory, but with the brake pressed you get start, to turn it off you have to hold it down like a PC power button.

            The very few keyless systems that have a simple rotary switch seem to me much better. All the convenience of proximity key with the intuitiveness and positive feedback of a rotary ignition switch.

        • 0 avatar
          Tinker

          So did anyone think about lowering a window and throwing the key out? (Assuming that punching the button again wouldn’t shut it off.)

          • 0 avatar
            Freddy M

            From what I know, these systems will not cut the ignition because the key is no longer present after the car is already running.

        • 0 avatar
          redmondjp

          Another thing to point out regarding the brakes is that the power brake boost force is provided by intake manifold vacuum. At wide open throttle, manifold vacuum is very low, so under these conditions you’re going to get one or two full pumps of the pedal and all of your boost is depleted.

          Combine that with overheated, faded brakes at triple-digit speeds, and you are not going to be able to stop.

        • 0 avatar
          Power6

          I’m with you, just like the McDonalds hot coffee lawsuit, it is not as idiotic as it seems.

          While there is some room for standardization here and the keyless system button is flawed, I don’t quite buy it. The “solenoid” thing you must have made up, or you have reference for that?

          The ES can absolutely be shifted to neutral and google the pic of the shifter. I hate those german gate style shifters but they are common and “N” is right ahead of “D”. There is no lockout is what Toyota said. There was a NHTSA quote where a spokesperson said it was “not obvious” where neutral was. Heck shift it on up to reverse or park, obviously not a problem with an electronic trans, and besides who cares its your life. I happen to know any of N, R or P would disengage forward drive. How about simply putting the foot under the accelerator and pulling up with the foot?

          I’m not quite on board with this one. I have had this happen to me years ago (stuck throttle at the carb) and had no problem stopping the car with the brakes at ful throttle and shifting to neutral and turning the car off. I was a fairly new driver at 18. So I have my opinions partly based on that.

        • 0 avatar
          Charlene Blake

          Excellent points made! Now there IS evidence of serious ETCS-i software glitches that can lead to full throttle SUA events with ineffective fail-safe condition. See Michael Barr’s information, especially his Bookout V. Toyota court transcript with slideshow of facts. His report is 800 pages long but is court-sealed. It needs to be made public in the name of vehicle safety.

          Charlene Blake

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      ” Did they ever determine the cause of this one – wrong pedal, mat keeping throttle pedal down, stuck pedal, or computer error”

      My guess would be “Insufficient User IQ.”

      • 0 avatar

        @HDC: My guess would be “Insufficient User IQ.”

        While a disproportional number of Toyota drivers do fit the bill, how do you explain that 55% of SUA cases involve a Toyota while only 14% of cars on the road are Toyotas. It doesn’t seem like Toyota has fixed the problem yet..

        http://sacramento.cbslocal.com/2013/03/25/family-of-woman-who-died-after-driving-into-river-hires-attorney/

        http://autos.aol.com/article/mussarat-chaudhary-58-dies-after-her-toyota-plunges-into-river/

        SUA is a terrifying experience and I bet even the most savvy drivers will not be able to do much when it happens to them. You can’t blame the consumer for not “putting it in neutral” when this happens. Cars should not run out of control in the first place. If one brand of toasters suddenly catch fire and burn the house down along with its occupants, you can’t blame “insufficient user IQ” for not keeping a fire extinguisher handy, when toasting bread.

        • 0 avatar
          DC Bruce

          You know the old logical fallacy: correlation does not equal causation. One possible explanation for the difference is the design and placement of the accelerator and brake pedals. Another is the design and placement of the floormats. And yes, I dimly recall a rather elaborate analysis on this site of how the accelerator pedal mechanism (which is just a rheostat connected to the pedal) used in some Toyotas can get sticky.

          And I can’t help but noting that this problem (whether you call it “unintended acceleration” or “improper pedal application”)is one of the downsides of the ubiquity of automatic transmissions.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          Sounds opportunistic to me.

          Oh goodie, goodie, goodie! Let’s make like we have SUA and sue Toyota. We’ll be rich! Rich I tell ‘ya!

          I don’t buy into SUA. As humans we all make mistakes. The honorable ones among us own up to our mistakes. The ones without honor blame something else and sue Toyota.

          NASA and other studies put Toyota through the wringer and came up with a big goose egg.

          Competitors of Toyota would have us believe that their products are junk and prone to SUA. But Toyota continues to sell, and sell and sell.

          Admittedly, I am a convert to Toyota. Own two of them at this time, a 2008 Japan-built Highlander Limited and a 2011 Tundra 5.7.

          I’ll stick with Insufficient User IQ.

          • 0 avatar
            lojak

            Can’t say what caused this accident but I can say I’ve never owned a car in which the brakes didn’t significantly slow the car down regardless of how much throttle was applied. Not to mention neutral or the clutch will pretty much render a stuck throttle a non-issue.

          • 0 avatar
            vww12

            Lojak and highdesertcat have it right.

            Brake power is always higher than engine power in all modern cars.

            Also: throw your car into N, will ya?

            Finally: you see those cute grips on your foot mat? Those ain’t decorative.

          • 0 avatar
            Charlene Blake

            Toyota cites that there is no electronic cause for SUA in its vehicles based on the short-duration investigations by NHTSA and NASA. Michael Barr and other experts have shown these studies to be scientifically seriously flawed. First, the ETCS-I software investigation was extremely limited. Only a SMALL FRACTION of the embedded software was tested by NASA.

            Secondly, Toyota misrepresented the presence of EDAC RAM (error detection and correction random access memory) while indications of this issue were apparently redacted in the original NHTSA report. This misled NASA into NOT LOOKING INTO a number of potential sources of failure – which they may otherwise might have.

        • 0 avatar
          justgregit

          My dad once had a case of SUA in his Datsun pickup truck. I would chalk it up to being a Japanese thing, except it was admittedly user error (and perhaps an IQ issue).

          He had been working on the truck and left a screwdriver under the hood. While he was driving it somehow got lodged in the throttle body, holding the throttle wide open. If I recall correctly, he said he ended up just shutting the car off and coasting to a stop. The kicker was that when he went to grab the keys they initially fell out of the ignition and he had to scoop them off the floor and put them back in in order to shut it off. Fortunately for him, there actually was floor where they landed, since I’m pretty sure most of it was rusted out in that truck.

          Also fortunately, in that truck, there was NO WAY you were ever going to get to 100mph, and no matter how open the throttle was SUA was going to be slow.

          • 0 avatar

            “Brake power is always higher than engine power in all modern cars.”

            NOT IN MY CAR.

            And judging from her name, perhaps she was a small, petite woman without powerful stomping force.

          • 0 avatar
            Dan

            Car and Driver tried it with a 540 horsepower RS3 Mustang.

            It stopped from 100 mph in 300 yards.

            If your car won’t stop that isn’t your engine being too powerful. It’s something wrong with your brakes.

          • 0 avatar
            FuzzyPlushroom

            I had a Volvo 850 with a sticky throttle body… not the TB itself but the little wheel the throttle cable loops around at its terminus. The few times it stuck open before I sanded away the corrosion that caused it, I was able to take the car out of gear, turn it off, and coast to the side of the road. Even if it’d been an automatic, I could’ve simply put it into neutral.

            I see that as the real problem here – less-than-intuitive ignition buttons and transmissions that won’t shift into neutral while the car’s at highway speed would be a safety concern even if Toyotas didn’t have a higher-than-average rate of unintended acceleration.

          • 0 avatar
            redav

            FuzzyPlushroom, speaking of putting the transmission into neutral, the first time I drove a Toyota hybrid with the Prius-style controller, I did not know how to put it in neutral. If I were an uninvolved driver in an emergency, it’s very possible that I would not figure it out in time.

        • 0 avatar
          MBella

          You can do several things to stop the car, put it into neutral, turn the engine off, just step on the brakes. Every car that has been tested, even those without brake override have been shown to stop with the engine a full throttle.

          I have seen so many cars come in with stacked floor mats. Many times they are complaining about the lack of engine performance. Pull the three floor mats out and the car is fine. I have seen a car come in with the factory carpeted mat on the bottom, then the factory all-season mat on top of that, then an aftermarket all-season mat, than a remnant piece of carpet on top. I personally think that if floor mats kill these people society will benefit.

          • 0 avatar
            Charlene Blake

            Guess you’ve never been barreling down the road at 100+ mph and had time to brainstorm all these methods to stop the terrifying ordeal?

            Toyota and Lexus owners should not have to be their own fail-safes! The life and death is too great.

            Toyota needs to own up to an ELECTRONIC software flaw(s) and recall the vehicles.

        • 0 avatar
          toxicroach

          Same reason all the witches were in Salem.

          Also, since the majority of SUA happened to older people, we need to explain how the Camry became sentient, and why it hates old people.

          • 0 avatar
            TomHend

            Intersting about the witches in Salem, it is possible they may have really been hallucinating because the wheat was mixed with rye and if the wheat had been rotting because of too much wet weather (wheat is not grown in abundance in MA)in storage it may have caused the “witches” to freak out.
            Of course the Puritans were a pain in the butt that is why they got kicked out of England in the first place.

          • 0 avatar
            wumpus

            How many young people do you know who drive Camrys? I also have to wonder about the brakes. I’m sure the brakes can exert more force than the engine. I’m not sure the brakes will stop the car from highway (even old drive highway) speeds while at full throttle without fading. Should the brakes fade before the car stops, to the point the exert less force than the WOT engine, expect the car to back to speed while flames shoot out of the brakes…

            I think we can safely say that a simple inspection of the brakes will tell you what happened with any “sudden acceleration” car that didn’t catch on fire on impact (catching on fire *before* impact means they were on the brake).

            I strongly support laughing at anyone who reports such acceleration and has intact brakes and/or a neutral gear.

  • avatar
    Da Coyote

    Wow, Toyota must make some real GM quality machines…what with the brakes, the ignition switch, the shift lever (moving to neutral) all failing simultaneously.

    This trial would go quickly if the “jury of peers” were required to be comprised solely of mechEs and EEs.

    However, there would be a follow on suit by relatives of those engineers – who died laughing in the jury box.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      Seriously!

    • 0 avatar
      tuffjuff

      It amazes me how few people know how to shift into neutral.

      My 2012 Focus’ cruise control system would mess up, on hilly terrain, and sometimes over-rev to try and compensate. A quick shift to neutral gives you plenty of time to break, etc.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Amen! More people should try it instead of panicking.

      • 0 avatar
        toxicroach

        Personally I don’t see any reason that suicide should be ruled out here. I mean, I don’t know anything about the case, but this wouldn’t be the first suicide by car ‘accident’.

        • 0 avatar
          Charlene Blake

          You and someone else believe suicide. The other person thought that the CHP Saylor killed his entire family intentionally while at the same time calling 911 for help. Right!

          Reputation management?

      • 0 avatar
        LeMansteve

        It is easy for us car enthusiasts to sit back, roll our eyes and say “they obviously should have shifted into neutral”. There are a large number of drivers out there who don’t know what that little “N” really means. To most it is probably just a letter on the shifter between R and D. Sadly, you just can’t expect everyone to understand that neutral “disconnects” engine power from the drive wheels and why that’s important in SUA situations.

        • 0 avatar
          davefromcalgary

          I’m sorry but I think we should expect people to know what neutral is, and if they don’t understand such a basic facet of the automobile, they shouldn’t be allowed to drive. Too many people seem to be thinking operating a motor vehicle is a right. Its a privilege and should require basic understanding of basic functions.

        • 0 avatar
          noxioux

          Wrong.

          People who don’t know what their gear selector does have ABSOLUTELY no business being behind the wheel of a car, period. Being stupid is not an acceptable excuse, when you’re talking about the operation of a 3,000+ lb murder weapon.

          It’s past time we stopped making excuses for people who are sleepwalking through life.

        • 0 avatar
          redav

          While I agree that those who don’t know how to safely operate a vehicle have no business doing so, I also agree there are several people out there who don’t know & yet DO operate a vehicle.

          Driving has become so ubiquitous that even if laws required better training, graduated licenses, suspensions, etc., it wouldn’t change the fact that the roads are full of people who drive anyway regardless of capability, qualification, or legality.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            Good point redav,

            I can state for sure that alot of people around here will get a DUI and lose their licence for up to a year, but they drive anyways, legally licenced or not. I can state this for sure because I hear these stories straight from the horses mouth, and worse yet they do it with pride.

  • avatar

    I know guys with SCION FRS who wish their cars could suddenly accelerate to 100 mph.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    To hell with brake override.

    Slap it one position up to neutral, crisis adverted
    Turn the key to “off”, crisis adverted
    Install ejector seats, crisis adverted
    Put shifter into Reverse, to stall out, crisis adverted

    Brakes override gas?
    Yea…. Ever been offroading? Or how about had a little fun with some power?

    • 0 avatar
      tuffjuff

      People really just don’t know how to drive.

    • 0 avatar

      I like that commercial of DEATH in the Mercedes E-class trying to claim the life of the driver with a “sorry” only to realize the safety features saved the guy’s life.

      Can we RESHOOT THAT COMMERCIAL so we can show people how to avert being killed (or at least not rear-ended me) by showing their Toyota unintentionally trying to do the quarter mile and the knowledgeable driver PUTTING IT INTO NEUTRAL instead of using their phone to call 911???

      I actually tried to use the unintentional acceleration line when a cop pulled me over for 106 in a 65 (I was just passing). He didn’t buy it.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      “Slap it one position up to neutral, crisis adverted”

      Remember that vid of someone pulling into their driveway & hitting the wrong pedal? The driver tried getting it out of gear, but accidentally pushed it into reverse, then accidentally pushed it back into drive, and then reverse again.

      Before seeing that vid, I had not considered the possibility of overshooting/missing neutral or that a car wouldn’t have protections against engaging the ‘wrong’ directonal gear. I thought every car required a button press & brake application.

      Take-away: it seems there are real design problems with these things that we don’t think about because we don’t get into those situations. What should be a no-brainer may not actually work.

      • 0 avatar
        bk_moto

        Yes and during that whole time if the driver had taken her foot off the throttle the car would have stopped. She had her foot to the floor on the throttle the whole time and never once hit the brakes.

        Also, would have had to hit the button to get from N to R.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        I found that video funny if anything, she has plenty of time to figure out what she’s doing, yet keeps on Doing it.
        From what I’ve seen on automatics, they all allow you to bump them into neutral without either pulling towards yourself ( column shift) or without depressing a button, reverse and 3rd require you to either depress a button or pull it towards yourself to engage.

  • avatar
    99GT4.6

    As has already been said, what astounds me about this whole case is the fact that people are so uninformed about how to stop a runaway car. If the throttle sticks in an automatic, shift to neutral or turn off the engine (but you will lose power steering and brakes if you do that). In manual, just push in the clutch and hold it down or shift to neutral. None of these runaway car crashes should have happened, let alone have been fatal. Yes throttles should not stick but people have to know what to do if it happens.

    • 0 avatar

      My problem is what to do if you have electric steering, push button start and one of these automatic transmissions like you might find in a Mercedes S550.

      My new car has push button start and I prefer the good old turn key. I also have the 5-speed which can be easily forced into neutral while the other cars have electronic transmission shift.

      And they really think I’ll let the government force me into a self driving car…

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Yeah, but in the end, Toyota will pay out handsomely to just maintain its good name. In turn, they’ll jack up the price of their vehicles one more notch so all Toyota buyers can pay for the settlement, just like the Detroit 3 did for decades.

        The people of today, stupid as they may be and unable to control a motor vehicle, will always see a bull’s eye with dollar signs when they sue large corporations.

        It’s been said before by others that we each assume a certain level of risk when we set foot out of the door of our homes and venture out onto the streets with our vehicles.

        But there is no such thing as personal responsibility any more, even if the operator is at fault in a single-vehicle crash.

      • 0 avatar
        Beerboy12

        Push button start is also the engine stop… What happens if you press the start button on the highway?
        BTW break pressure should last enough to bring the car to a stop but the steering will be nasty.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          We tried that in my wife’s 2012 Grand Cherokee. After holding down the pushbutton for maybe a second, maybe two, the engine dies and you coast to a stop.

        • 0 avatar
          vww12

          The pushbutton start on Phaeton does not do anything unless the car is in Park. Both for on and for off.

          In modern cars, the starter button is not really connected to the starter motor. A little computer will spin the starter until the car starts, or until the computer decides to not start the car at all.

        • 0 avatar
          redav

          It’s different for different cars. Some you push & hold for emergency shut down, while others have multiple presses in rapid succession.

          The lack of consistency is a real problem, as is the distorted sense of time in a panic situation (they press the button for what seems like an eternity, but it was only 1 sec & not enough to shut it off).

      • 0 avatar
        MBella

        If you really prefer turning the key on your S550, the button just pulls out and you can insert the key into s standard Mercedes electronic ignition switch.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          On the Grand Cherokee you can also pop out the button and stick your fob into the hole to turn it like a real key.

          Trouble is, having the fob sticking out of the dashboard is not only dreadfully ugly, it is distracting as all hell as well.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Push button start along with manual transmission Verano Turbo, along with the acessing the accessory funtion with engine off and having to hit it twice when coasting into a parking spot, has me double hitting the stop/start more than once to find out what I want. I don’t drive it enough to remembe the proper sequencwe. And I grew up on tractors and motorcycles.

      But when I do double tap to shut offf the engine the electric steering is so much light than hydralic based units.

  • avatar
    carve

    A “brake override” (shouldn’t we call it a throttle override?) is a nice-to-have, but it isn’t necessary and doesn’t do a damn thing if you’re pushing the gas instead of the brake.

    What really makes me mad is how many of these people start making phone calls instead of stopping their car. What a danger to us all!

    There really isn’t a car out there that has a more powerful engine than brakes. Stand on them and you’ll stop, even without brake override. Turning the car off is also a great way to stop the engine. The simplest way, however, is obviously to just put the car in neutral. I think the generations who grew up without ever driving stick must have no idea what “N” does. Scary. What a shame Toyota has to waste resources defending against this. Even if it was a defect (and it wasn’t), it’s still the drivers responsibility to know how to handle that situation. It’s not as though the brakes failed or the steering shaft broke.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Welcome to the new America.

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      I agree with you, but there are some pretty impressive demonstrations that show that, if the driver applies and releases the brakes in that situation (not unlikely) and at speed the brakes will rapidly overheat and become ineffective. From a dead stop, standing on the brakes and the gas simultaneously will not move any car forward, even a very powerful car.

      But at highway speeds, it is necessary to stand on the brakes and stay on them to bring the car to a full stop, with the engine at full throttle.

    • 0 avatar
      segfault

      “There really isn’t a car out there that has a more powerful engine than brakes.”

      This is true, however, in the affected Toyotas, the brake boost wouldn’t build back up if the engine was stuck at full throttle, so if you let go of the brake pedal, you would lose power assist. Do that a few times, and the brakes would overheat, further compounding the problem.

      The real issue is that Toyota doesn’t give a flip about safety. Why wasn’t brake override part of their electronic throttle control from the beginning? Why do the RAV4 and Camry perform so poorly in the new “small overlap” crash tests?

      • 0 avatar
        niky

        They suck at the small overlap test for the same reason other people do. Because they built to the old tests. Subaru gets lucky because their unique engine layout makes their front-end architecture much different.

        Even the proponents of the small overlap test figure that it will take another model generation for all cars to adapt to it.

        -

        And brake over-rides are nice, but not a necessity. In fact, it’s something that many enthusiasts and professional drivers bemoan. There are times on-track and off-road when you want to be holding both.

        • 0 avatar
          segfault

          Honda managed to perform well on the small overlap tests right out of the gate. I’m not sure whether they had enough advance notice to design the Civic, Accord, and CR-V to the test.

          “There are times on-track and off-road when you want to be holding both.”

          With the exception of TTAC’s own tame racing driver, how many Camry drivers take their car to the track?

          • 0 avatar
            84Cressida

            Um, according to Autoline, Honda knew that the small overlap test was coming back in 2009 but nobody else did, and the fact that Toyota, Mercedes, and BMW, three brands known for safety, have struggled leads credibility to this.. And I don’t know what test you’re looking at, but the CR-V flunked it hard and the Civic passed it only for 2013 models which Honda explicitly said they modified to pass it, implying the 2012s would’ve failed. Toyota is FAR from alone in doing poorly on those tests.

            Oh yes, and they were also not the only ones originally without brake over-rides, but are hilariously now the only ones that have them on every single car they build. Many cars today still do not have the feature.

          • 0 avatar
            segfault

            I just looked up and watched that Autoline broadcast on Youtube, and 60 seconds into it, the anchor claims that the 40 MPH small overlap test is the same as clipping another car at 80 MPH. If they can’t get their high school physics correct, I’m not inclined to consider them a reliable source.

            Furthermore, Autoline’s claim that Honda knew about the test in 2009 is based upon their speculative conclusion that, because it takes three years to develop a new car, Honda must have known about the new crash test when they began developing the 2013 Accord. This is incorrect, since structural improvement can be perfected later in the design process, or even retrofitted later, as it apparently was in the 2013 Civic.

            The 2013 CR-V did not “flunk the test hard.” It received an overall score of “marginal,” and injury measures were all “good,” with the exception of the lower leg/foot area. There are only two small SUVs which performed better in that test, and there are several which performed worse.

            “Many cars today still do not have the feature.”

            Care to provide some examples? Post-Toyotagate, I was under the impression that nearly everyone does.

            It appears that you have some sort of axe to grind with Honda. I’ve never owned one, but have driven many, and have generally been disappointed by the driving experience. Honda cuts corners in a lot of areas, but safety is no longer one of them. Not that long ago Honda was using mouse motor seat belts instead of airbags, offering ABS or side airbags only on obscure trim levels, and offering stability control only on V6 Accords, but they’ve really turned around, and I applaud them for that.

          • 0 avatar
            84Cressida

            I have nothing against Honda- I quite like the new Accord, RLX, ILX (yes, really), and even the Civic refresh is a good effort and the fact that they did in the first place is commendable.

            But the CRV getting a marginal is the equivalent of a D-. I applaud them with their efforts with the Accord and Civic, but the others doing worse isn’t really an exception, it’s sadly a rule for the time being. Whether Honda had prior knowledge and others didn’t I don’t know, but I can’t imagine companies like Toyota, Mercedes, BMW, Ford, GM, and Nissan getting notified about a test and then doing nothing to plan for it.

            Toyota’s claim is that they were the first automaker to install brake override on all of their cars, and this was amidst all the recalls back in 2010, and the statement implies that others do not have 100% of their fleet having it, only some or not at all. If I were to discredit Toyota (and no doubt they’d be hung out to dry by the media if they were caught lying which I don’t believe they are) then my own experiences with several different cars proves there is plausibility to it. My mom’s Ultimate Driving Machine does not have it (which at the time of the Toyota recalls, some in the media claimed German cars had it. Not this one, 2006 330I), nor do several cars I’ve driven as rentals, including several Hyundais and a few Fords off the top of my head. You’d think that after seeing what Toyota went through everyone would have it.

  • avatar
    mitchw

    Lots of luck finding impartial jurors.

    Tip to potential jurors; if you say you don’t believe you could be fair and impartial, you’re free to go. Sounds like every ttac poster

    • 0 avatar
      Felix Hoenikker

      Once, I tried to get dismissed from a jury panel on a civil suit. When asked if I had any thoughts about the case, I told the lawyers that I had training in accident investigation and from the meager details of the case we were told, I would only need 15 minutes to settle the case. Also, I would be very angry if they screwed around and took three days to try the case. The guy seated next to me said “you’re outa here” when I sat down. No luck. I was chosen as a juror for that case.
      For revenge, I became the captain of the jury and obtained a unanimous verdict in 15 mimutes.

  • avatar
    Waterview

    It’s tragic that a life was lost (and others have possibly been injured) by SUA. That said, it remains incumbent upon the operator to understand how to operate the vehicle safely, including during emergency situations (i.e. slap the damn shifter into neutral).
    As a boater, I don’t leave shore without planning for adverse situations and the same is true for driving. These skills should be taught (and actively sought out by car owners). I have a son who’s approaching driving age and he won’t get behind the wheel until he demonstrates he’s prepared for good conditions as well as bad. It’s not a phone booth and it’s not a dining room — it’s a car being operated in an environment where bad things happen. Get educated and be prepared.

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    I was called for jury duty twice. In both cases I was in the pool for trials that turned out to be personal injury suits involving car accidents. As soon as the attorneys found out I used to work for a car manufacturer I was immediately excused during voir dire. Just saying… any plaintif’s attorney worth a modicum of his cheesy suit would likewise kick a mechanical engineer off a jury unless there were simply no more preemtives left.

    If drag racers with much higher horsepower than a Camry can hold the car against engine power with their brakes, I would have to think that a driver of a passenger car would be able to at least slow down and maintain control if there were a stuck throttle…. running up to 100 mph and hitting a tree? Leads me to think she was pushing the throttle instead of the brake but what do I know?

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      During 2006 I sat on a jury for a personal injury suit for a car accident three years earlier, allegedly caused by the design/assembly of the Detroit vehicle. The particulars don’t matter, the finding is what matters.

      There was as much consensus among the jurors then as there is on this thread now.

      In the end, after each one of us had our say behind closed doors in the jury room, and after we rehashed all the facts that were presented to us, the majority of us concluded that the lady doing the suing really didn’t have a leg to stand on since she was the last one who could have prevented the accident. Again, the specifics don’t matter, the finding does.

      But that didn’t prevent the majority of the jurors, except me, to vote to give the lady compensation, damages, and medical care costs. No punitive nor pain and suffering.

      The amount she was awarded was a fraction of the millions she had claimed she was due, but the fact that she got any money at all when she was a contributing factor to the accident, always rubbed me the wrong way.

      And I bet this current case we’re discussing now will result in a finding where Toyota settles, like they did in the I-15/San Diego case involving the State Trooper, even though there was nothing wrong with the Lexus that crashed and it was found that a non-fitting floor mat caused the accelerator to get stuck.

      These people who are suing Toyota for wrongful death will be millionaires, no doubt, and we’ll all pay more for our Toyota products because of it.

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    How many millions of car on the road lack this new safety feature (throttle deactivation when braking) yet because Toyota didn’t have it on a certain model in the past, they’re now liable?

    It’s been repeatedly demonstrated that even with the pedal floored, the brakes could still easily stop the vehicle. And they’ve yet to even find a smoking gun regarding the unintentional acceleration.

    I one time had an Oldsmobile car and the nut slipped off the throttle cable and jam itself into an open position, it was like the car was being floored as I came away from the stoplight. I slipped the car into neutral and turned off the key. Never did I think to sue GM.

    We all know this is some idiot behind the wheel, and the lawyers are hoping there’s enough idiots on the jury to score a billion dollar payday.

    • 0 avatar
      segfault

      My VW (with electronic throttle) had this safety feature in 1999. I’m not sure why it wouldn’t be a common sense thing to include when designing an electronic throttle.

      “It’s been repeatedly demonstrated that even with the pedal floored, the brakes could still easily stop the vehicle.”

      See above, on the affected cars, you lose power assist and the brakes overheat if you do pretty much anything except hold your foot on the brake continuously until the car comes to a dead stop. If you let off the brakes to try to figure out what’s going on, the car begins speeding up, and there’s no power assist, so many people pump the brakes (as they have been trained to do when power assist is lost), causing them to overheat.

    • 0 avatar
      toxicroach

      Going to trial doesn’t mean they’ve been found liable.

      If anything Toyota must be feeling pretty confident that it has a good chance of winning the case.

  • avatar
    Rental Man

    I worked for years for a large rental company that rins at times over 50% Toyota fleet. I filled accident reports almost everyday with customers. I never once haf anyone blame the car until the recall surfaced. In a meeting i asked other MGR’s. Same story. Never before.
    After that EVERY make and model seemed to be blamed for unintended acceleration. The legal department was swamped with people calling to change their previous accident report statements. They would miraculously go away when asked to sign a legal affidavit.
    I don’t love Toyota, yet i always thought they did not deserve this. People love to blame others for their own mistakes.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I think that getting asked-for settlements due the “economic losses” is more than many of the Toyota owners deserve, but this may have some merit.

  • avatar
    RRocket

    Here’s a video I made when this whole UA thing was going on on how to stop a runaway Toyota

    Enjoy!!

  • avatar
    RRocket

    Oh…no external links allowed??

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    There is a bit more information in this story.

    Third-party witnesses with no skin in the game saw her brake lights on. When the car finally stopped and rescuers arrived, the parking brake was found to be fully engaged. By witness reports and the position of the brake, it APPEARS (note, I said appears, not blindly attacked Toyota but said appears) she did make every reasonable effort to stop the vehicle.

    Toyota settled out of court with the CHP officer killed in the Lexus to the tune of $10 million – while admitting no wrong doing. FWIW.

    • 0 avatar
      Brian P

      Shift into neutral … ? ? ?

    • 0 avatar
      84Cressida

      Toyota should’ve had no part in the CHP case. It was found to be floormats stacked on top of each other by the dealer who owned the loaner car and just a few days prior the same thing happened to someone else, who then complained about it, but the dealer did nothing. Properly installed, there was zero chance the pedal would’ve been caught on the floormat. In addition, the floormat in the car, which was an ES, was an RX floormat.

      The dealership should’ve been the one in litigation with the family. They’re the ones who put the mats on top of each other and were responsible for the accident.

      And a parking brake won’t do much if you’re still hitting the gas while you’re hitting the brake. The brake lights were likely on because she was hitting the brake pedal enough to trigger the lights, but the majority of the force was still on the gas pedal.

  • avatar
    segfault

    An article in the San Francisco Chronicle adds an interesting tidbit of information:
    “The automaker put the brake override system in its European fleet, [the Plaintiffs\' attorney] said.”

    If true, it’s not clear why they would offer that feature on their European models and not in the US.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Vehicles for the Euro-market are specced differently than those for the US.

      We have a large contingent of German military people training at the base near where I live and they love their American cars, trucks and Harleys. They buy them as status symbols and souvenirs of their American tour of duty. They buy them dirt cheap over here because they can’t buy them at any price in Germany.

      But when they take them back to Germany with them, they’ll have to make some changes, just like I had to make some changes when I brought an American car to Germany with me from the States during my military days.

      Brake-override may be mandatory for Europe. It is not for the US.

  • avatar
    oldyak

    Seems a though I am always the last one to comment but here goes.
    I will be very interested in the outcome of this trial because after all the huff and puff of the BAB, look at the car! Imagine some person trying to stop it and being unable to do so…….pretty scary stuff indeed!
    Toyota Fans and haters need to think about how a car can do this and kill someone!
    I am 62 and if my 740 got away from me how long would it take me to get it under control… and if it was ‘less than perfect’ circumstances..could I do it in time?

  • avatar
    BerlinDave

    Why is 100 mph so incredibly fast? Living in Germany it is the speed that I normally drive on the Autobahn (where it is not speed controlled). My motorcycles (usually BMW) seem to cruise comfortably at 160 kph which is 100 mph.

    My E Class Mercedes also cruises problem free at 100 mph even if it is 16 years old now. And, it still stops when you press the brake!

    Amazing concept, using the brake. I really cannot imagine a modern car not being able to stop from 100 mph. Even if the driver is very light in weight applying full force to the brake pedal should stop the car?

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Larger brakes or a parachute.

      Have you repeated stood on the brakes from 100 mph? Not even sport cars wkith bigger rotors and heat resistant brake ;ads can it too many times without brake fade. Factor in older brake fluid and it doesn’t take long to cook them.

    • 0 avatar
      BMWnut

      With the throttle stuck wide open for whatever reason, there is little or no vacuum to make the power assistance on the brakes work. The brakes will still stop the car, but now you have to press much harder than you are used to. Already in a stance of mild to severe panic and with an accident about to happen, the drivers probably did not do that. They may even have assumed that the brakes failed and taken their feet off the pedals.

  • avatar
    mike1dog

    Why do people keep saying “Why didn’t she shift into neutral?” when it’s been pointed out here that the car had a solenoid to keep you from doing just that? Why do you all keep saying “She should turn the engine off.” when it’s not totally intuitive to hold the button down for a certain amount of time while trying to stop the car. I’m not saying the car couldn’t be stopped with the brakes, if they were pressed hard, but if she partially applied them for a while, I can see how they might fade pretty quickly, meaning they couldn’t stop the car. I probably wouldn’t have had the presence of mind to pull the emergency brake like she did. The problem with the Toyota is they didn’t have an override where it would cut the throttle when the brake pedal was pressed.

    • 0 avatar
      bk_moto

      It’s been pointed out here that there is solenoid that keeps the transmission from shifting into neutral under acceleration, but that doesn’t make it true. I’m highly skeptical of that claim and it needs a source to back it up. The Camry certainly has no such device (Car and Driver tested and wrote about their results in shifting to neutral and the article is available on their web site) and of course any of the millions of people who own a Camry (certainly there are some who are commenters on this site) could easily take their cars out and attempt to bump the shifter into neutral while accelerating to put this issue to bed.

      But perhaps the Prius or other Toyota with the stubby electronic shifter? Nope, there’s plenty of YouTube video showing that the car will happily shift into neutral while accelerating fully.

      So I’m calling BS on this claim unless it can be backed up by a credible source.

    • 0 avatar
      noxioux

      Because we think that people ought to think about, and know what they’re doing behind the wheel. Applying the brakes, shifting into neutral, pulling the e-brake are all elementary car operations. I’d consider understanding them a baseline requirement of driving a motor vehicle. If someone can’t be bothered to make at least that effort, then they shouldn’t be driving.

  • avatar
    chuckrs

    The car industry has been using FMEA/FMECA for decades to identify failure modes. For Toyota’s sake, I hope something didn’t slip through the cracks. In a court jury trial it doesn’t matter if there is a logical set of steps to overcome a problem if those steps aren’t straightforward. It is always easier to change the design than to change people. Enthusiasts can grouse about this all they want – to no avail. D- to Toyota for start buttons that work differently for start and stop.
    I have 3 MT cars and one tiptronic. All of them can easily go into neutral when under way and my kids (actually young adults now) know that. And all those cars instantly turn off with keys too, although with steering lock and loss of brake boost that certainly isn’t the first step to take.
    It will be instructive to see what Toyota presents in the way of FMEA.

  • avatar
    bk_moto

    Question: now that electric-assist power steering is beginning to replace hydraulic-assist power steering on the road in the interest of fuel efficiency, do those vehicles still lose steering assist when the engine is shut off with the key? I haven’t tried – maybe I should give it a try in the GTI.

    I’m talking about turning the key off and then immediately back to the “on” position so as not to lock the steering wheel. I wonder if the electric power assist would work in this configuration or if it’s designed to only work when the engine is running due to the high electrical demand.

  • avatar
    JimC2

    On a related topic, does anyone in the B&B know if runaway Prius man was ever charged with anything after his stunt in California a few years ago? (I’m referring to the guy with the Corvette Club jacket and the bankrupt swing website. Remember him?)

    • 0 avatar
      84Cressida

      I remember him. He just faded away after the media looked into his background. I actually consider him the reason why the coverage of SUA dropped off since he was obviously a phony.

  • avatar
    davejay

    Driver training is important.

    When unintended acceleration reared its head a few years back, I thought about the information I’d researched for a paper on the similar issues with Audi 5000s back in the day. Then I had a sit-down with my ex-wife, who shuttles my children around. She wouldn’t let me teach her how to change a flat tire when we were married, but thankfully she was willing to have this conversation.

    I walked her through the basics: why it happens, how scary it can be, and how many people believe they’re making the right choices to stop it but actually aren’t (such as pressing the gas down while believing they’re pressing the brake.) Then I explained what to do if it ever happened to her:

    1: lift your feet off of the pedals;
    2: slam the shifter into neutral (without concern for overshooting it, because transmissions are cheaper than lives);
    3: push and hold the brake until the car comes to a stop;
    4: put the car in park and shut it off.

    I told her, and had her repeat back to me, that she shouldn’t pump the brakes, shouldn’t turn the car off (because you don’t want the steering column to lock!) and shouldn’t try to fix the problem while the car was moving. I also told her that the engine would rev itself like mad and probably break, but not to worry about it — that getting into neutral and then pressing/holding the brake firmly until the car stopped was the only thing that mattered.

    Once done, I felt less stressed about it, and moved on, assuming it would never actually come up. Less than a year later, after a repair to her Mazda MPV that crimped the cruise control cable* and caused a stuck throttle while she was on the freeway. I found out when she called in a complete panic, totally (and understandably) freaked out about the experience.

    After she’d calmed down, she thanked me for teaching her. She was accelerating, lifted as a slower car got closer, and the car kept going. She said that she heard my voice in her head as she slammed the lever into neutral, changed lanes to the off-ramp, and used the brake once, firmly, to stop the car on the ramp.

    Teach your kids, folks. Teach your spouses. Teach yourself. Find some open road, floor the gas, then try to stop the car without lifting. It should be part of driver’s ed training just like everything else safety-related.

    *The Ford Escapes had the same engine, and were ultimately recalled for cables getting crimped during service, leading to stuck throttles, and when she had the car towed back to the dealer they totally owned their mistake, so that was nice. Would have been nicer if they hadn’t crimped it, though.


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