It seems that no matter where you look lately, Toyota is being called out for safety concerns. There are two main issues right now. One, braking problems and two, 'acceleration without driver input' or uncontrolled acceleration (think of the gas pedal getting stuck in the open position!).
The Detroit Bureau, AFP, and LA Times have printed stories on the safety issues relating to these two problems, and Toyota has responded (specifically to the LA Times story... Follow the links to get a full background brief on all the safety investigations). Unfortunately for Toyota, these issues have been out there for a while now, so it's not hard to see where the stories are coming from.
Toyota just had one of the biggest recalls ever on floor mats. It seems that if the floor mat became improperly secured, the accelerator could get stuck on it, causing uncontrolled acceleration.
In the recent news articles, the reporters have been focused in on that issue (and what's causing it), but I'm a little more concerned about the new issue being raised, the braking problems. An internal memo at the NHTSA was quoted by the AFP report:
“It appears that when you hit a bump, the regenerative braking (front wheels only) cuts out, and there is a short delay until the friction braking kicks in. This results in loss of braking, which is experienced as acceleration (due to sudden end of deceleration from braking). Net impact is still a loss of braking/ increase in stopping distance. This could be fatal for pedestrians — it happens when approaching stop lights if you hit a pothole.”To me, that sounds extremely dangerous and worrisome. And maybe because this is a new report (for me), that makes me more upset about it than the other possibility (which just sounds strange and unusual enough for me not to worry about it as being likely). The braking issue, however, seems more plausible (for lack of a better word) and more likely to occur more often.
How many times have you hit a pothole on the way to a stop light? Being in the North East, I'd say I did two or three times on the way to work this morning. The worst case scenario (above in the memo) is bad enough, but I could certainly see it happening more often where a fender bender occurs (add in snow or ice to the mix and we're talking about serious braking problems!)
Hopefully, we'll here more about this, and the resolution, sooner rather than lately.