In Washington DC on Wednesday, Akio Toyoda, the president of Toyota Motor Corp., appeared before the US Congress to apologize over the acceleration and brake issues that has led to the recall of more than 8.5 million vehicles in less than six months. Toyoda is the grandson of Toyota’s founder.
In front of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Toyoda took responsibility for the company’s failure to properly acknowledge and deal with the issues that have allegedly injured and killed so many. The US government has opened a criminal probe into Toyota’s handing of the safety issues.
According to the Los Angeles Times, at least 56 deaths are linked to Toyota’s sudden untended acceleration problems, and not all of the Toyota vehicles involved in these deaths have been recalled. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has received complaints regarding 34 of these fatalities, while another 22 Toyota-related deaths were identified in police reports and auto products liability complaints over wrongful deaths.
Granted, the NHTSA’s information does not say whether the complaints are valid, and the allegations have not been proven in a court of law. However, our Washington DC auto products liability lawyers cannot help but be concerned that there are so many US car crash victims that have reportedly died or gotten hurt while in a Toyota vehicle.
Over the years, many people have opted to buy Toyota vehicles because the automaker has been known for making safe cars. Yet many of the victims that died in alleged runaway Toyota car crashes weren’t doing anything dangerous at the time. They weren’t driving drunk or talking on a cell phone. Instead, as the LA Times reports, they were just living their lives—going shopping, returning to the office from a lunch break, headed to the bank, etc.
One 62-year-old woman faces time in prison if she is convicted for reckless driving and gross vehicular manslaughter over a 2008 car crash that killed her sister-in-law. The driver, who along with another passenger was also seriously injured, had a clean driving record before the catastrophic auto accident. Her family believes that an electronic malfunction, rather than driver negligence, may have been the actual reason that the Lexus RX330 accelerated unintentionally and overturned.
Crash reports tell of horror, Los Angeles Times, February 28, 2010
After stoic showing in Congress, Toyoda breaks into tears, Reuters, February 24, 2010
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