After more than a week of Toyota's gas pedal issue and the halt in production being headline news, there seems to be a fix. The article published in CNNMoney.com states that Toyota has developed a fix and is already shipping the new parts to dealers. Toyota has recalled 2.3 million vehicles in addition to halting production of its bestselling car, the Camry. In this article, it also states that Toyota has been aware of the 'unintended acceleration' issue for about 10 years. It took a major car dealer, which is a top seller of new cars, 10 years to find a fix to a problem that has already been suspected to be the cause of 19 deaths.
How many auto accidents occurred in the 10 years that did not result in a death? Why does it take so long to find the cause and fix the problem? One would have to wonder if the cost of admitting there was a problem and finding the solution was higher than the cost of paying for injuries and deaths. After the first reported death, I would suspect a team of investigators would analyze the crash details to determine if the cause was due to mechanical failure or driver error. Maybe the results did not confirm either cause, but what about after the second death or the third or the tenth?
The most horrific and most widely publicized car accident related to a gas pedal issue was the death of an off-duty state trooper and 3 members of his family. The Lexus they were in sped out of control due to the gas pedal getting stuck on the floor mat, another issue Toyota has been aware of for several years. Why does it take a family being devastated by an accident in order for a manufacturer to take proactive steps to prevent this from happening to anyone else? This pattern seems to be prevalent in auto product liability cases.
Other manufacturers have had similar problems. Back in the 70's, Ford made headline news surrounding the gas tank explosions in the Pinto models. Again in the 90's, Crown Victoria's experienced the same gas tank explosion issue blamed on faulty design. With all the crash testing performed by the manufacturers, one would think that these issues would have been identified long before these models went into production.
Car manufacturers are, of course, in the business to make a profit. When potential problems are identified, what is the process to determine if it is significant and if they should correct it? The cost of a fix is most definitely in the equation and how much of their profit would be affected. What is their "acceptable" number of injuries and deaths before they consider it a serious problem? Should their "acceptable" number of injuries and deaths be reviewed by independent sources, not just concealed behind the corporate veil?
We are relying on these manufacturers to build a safe car for us to drive, one that gives us the peace of mind that our families are safe driving or riding in them. They must take the responsibility to identify any and all problems that affect our safety and immediately notify the public as well as take steps to correct the problem as quickly as possible regardless of how it affects their bottom line. Your life could depend on it.
If you've been seriously injured in a car accident, call me, Wes Pittman, 24/7 in Panama City, Florida. I have been helping injured people and their families throughout the United States for more than 30 years.