Toyota drivers dispute, applaud sudden acceleration report - WNEM TV 5

Toyota drivers dispute, applaud sudden acceleration report

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

The findings from the Obama administration into sudden acceleration in Toyota vehicles once again has Tennessee drivers frustrated and vindicated.

The U.S. Transportation Department reported Tuesday its investigation found no electronic flaws to account for reports of sudden acceleration in Toyota vehicles.

"So let's be clear: The jury is back; the verdict is in. There is no electronic-based cause for unintended high-speed acceleration in Toyota, period," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

The NASA engineers who did the 10-month study closely examined nine Toyotas owned by people who said their vehicles suddenly sped up without warning. The engineers tested mechanical parts and even slammed the vehicles with electromagnetic radiation to see if it would cause the cars to accelerate.

"We enlisted the best and brightest engineers to study Toyota's electronic systems, and the verdict is in: There is no electronic-based cause for sudden acceleration in Toyotas," LaHood said.

The report comes three years after the Channel 4 I-Team first exposed sudden acceleration complaints in the 2007 Toyota Tacoma. In the I-Team's original reports, photographs were obtained that National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigators said showed the floor mats causing the problems.

But in that original investigation, one of the drivers interviewed disputed the floor mat caused her truck to suddenly accelerate.

"Absolutely not. I don't understand how that theory made any sense," said Tacoma driver Alex Pratt in 2007.

An attorney representing another crash victim said the same in 2009.

"Isn't it possible that a case of floor mat jamming under the gas pedal caused this accident?" asked I-Team Chief Investigative Reporter Jeremy Finley.

"It is not. It is impossible." said attorney Graham Esdale.

But when Dustin Ricardo's 2007 Camry crashed in Clarksville, his family's attorney told the I-Team he suspected floor mats were to blame.

"What I believed happened is that Dustin Ricardo, what he didn't realize, is that every time he was getting into the car, he was scooting the floor mat under the gas pedal," said attorney Mike Rowan in 2009.

While Tuesday's report dismissed an electronic flaw in the vehicles, NHTSA is considering requiring brake override systems on all vehicles.

Toyota ultimately recalled more than 12 million vehicles globally and paid the U.S. government $48.8 million in fines for how it handled its three recalls.

Copyright 2010 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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