The numbers continue to come in from consumers concerned about their runaway Toyotas. Based on a recent report, new data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) suggests there may be as many as 89 fatalities due to unintended acceleration since 2000. From 2000 through mid-May NHTSA has received about 6,200 complaints regarding Toyotas taking off on drivers including 57 injuries and the 89 deaths. Previously, NHTSA said that 52 fatalities were possibly involved with runaway Toyotas.
The problem has been that law enforcement in the past did not always look at such a possibility. While Toyota says its fixed nearly 3.5 million vehicles for defective auto parts among those recalled, the giant automaker insists that electronics are not to blame for the unintended acceleration. 5.4 million Toyotas have been recalled to fix a floor mat that was suspected as trapping accelerator pedals, but that explanation is increasingly the focus of skepticism. In addition Toyota has recalled another 2.3 million vehicles, including trucks to repair a sticking accelerator pedal. NHTSA says it has not seen any evidence that pedals were entrapped or accelerator pedals stuck in any vehicles that were properly repaired. A glitch in the computer system has long been suspected of causing the cars to speed out of control.
Toyota has already paid $16.4 million, a record fine, for its delayed response to the accelerator pedal recall. Hundreds of state and federal lawsuits are waiting to be heard.
Toyota said in a statement that it “sympathizes with the individuals and families involved in any accident involving our vehicles. We are making an all-out effort to ensure our vehicles are safe and we remain committed to investigating reported incidents of unintended acceleration in our vehicles quickly.”
The entire Toyota debacle has NHTSA reinventing itself asking Congress for upgraded auto safety laws, and to stiffen penalties against automakers. NHTSA also needs more power to demand recalls rather than waiting for the automaker to comply with a request from the agency in a classic tail wagging the dog scenario. If you or a loved one has had a trouble or been in a crash with a runaway Toyota, call the dealership, call Toyota and certainly call an experienced Florida auto accident attorney to make sure your rights are preserved.