atoyoT in the cross hairs

I don’t much care for Fox’s John Stossel. When he’s wrong I find his self importance grating. I think his comments about the hysteria over the Toyota safety issues is on target.

We have two Toyotas and my Prius was subject to the floor mat recall. In fact, Much to my annoyance the clip holding the floor mat under the driver’s side failed a year before I heard about the recall. It slid around for a short time before I took it out of the car.

According to the Toyota recall website:

There is the potential for an unsecured or incompatible driver’s floor mat to interfere with, or entrap, the accelerator pedal in the worst case, in the wide-open position. A vehicle with an entrapped accelerator pedal may be difficult to control and/or stop.

Long before I bought a Toyota I had other cars with slippy slidey floor mats. I suspect my fairly hurried removal of the Toyota floor mat might have been hastened because those other floor mats had interfered with either the gas or break pedal. I’ll bet this was the cause of other casualties long before anyone ever paid attention to the problem. According to Stossel’s column only about 19 people are known to have been killed over the years due to this design weakness in the Toyotas. The NPR story I was just listening to gave the figure at about 3 dozen people.

Toyota has apparently set aside some of their once vaunted emphasis on quality control and acted ham-handedly about this and other flaws. The recently released emails sound particularly damning although its hard for me to blame them for wanting to limit the recall to the floor mats as opposed to a recall of the whole car.

At least Toyota is being subjected to a little political scrutiny. Would that Johnson Controls faced the same.

Here are a couple more things to consider:

My removing my own floor mat without any prompting was not exceptional. As a child I used to stick my head out of car windows just like a dog on hot summer days. This was before we had AC. My grandmother would would have me pull my head back in by warning me about other daredevils who had their heads chopped off by passing cars. This was also before seat belts. It was my Grandmother who enforced a little common sense not General Motors.

And there’s this: Back when I was in high school more Americans were dying in car crashes every year than died in the Vietnam War over the entire decade we were stuck there. If more people had removed their loose floor mats it might have been even less. So, is this a good reason to kill the production of American manufactured Toyota’s during the worst recession since the Great Depression?

About 40,000 Americans die in car crashes annually now. How about we have our politicians mandate that alcohol sensing devices that kill the motor be installed in cars? That alone would probably save twice as many lives every year as were lost in 9-11. Of course, it would raise the cost of cars by a couple hundred dollars money which would be much better spent fighting terrorists.

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