In the early evening of 28th August 2009 an off-duty California Highways Policeman was driving a hired 2009 Lexus ES 350 saloon when it suddenly accelerated to about 120 mph shortly before reaching a T junction. The runaway vehicle hit a Ford Explorer, crashed through a fence, flew into the air, turned over twice and fell into the flood plain of the San Diego River, where it exploded in a ball of fire.
Mark Saylor a skilled police driver with 19 years experience and inspector of heavy vehicles, his wife, 13 year old daughter and brother-in-law were killed instantly. The last 48 seconds before the crash were recorded in a dramatic 911 call which captured the horror of the event.
As one newspaper put it: “Rarely, if ever, has one family’s fatal crash had such an impact, forcing the world’s largest automaker to admit thousands of sudden-acceleration complaints, recall more than 8 million vehicles worldwide and answer growing questions from Congress and consumers about its safety record.”
However, in spite of the recalls to check floor mats and fixings or to insert shims to prevent the possibility of sticky accelerator pedals, sudden unintended acceleration incidents are still occurring in Toyota vehicles that allegedly have been fixed. The fact that a skilled police driver like Mark Saylor would have been perfectly capable of dealing with such problems adds to the strong suggestion that the causes of sudden unintended acceleration have not been sufficiently addressed, and probably lie elsewhere.
Toyota categorically denies the possibility of malfunctioning electronic throttle controls. This denial makes it appear, by default, that drivers are to blame and the cause of their own misfortunes: apparently failing to be in control of their vehicles at all times, as the law requires. It is not clear on what factual basis Toyota make their assertions. Thus, in extremis, because the vehicle electronic systems are given the benefit of the doubt, the drivers of suddenly accelerating vehicles are punished for allegedly reckless driving. However, we assert that in many cases it should be the automobile manufacturers who should be punished for reckless inattention to the requirements of functional safety.
Source: www.insidefunctionalsafety.com | 31 August 2010