Cars Have Become Scary Again
The Wall Street Journal, reacting to growing reports of accidents caused by faulty accelerators and balky braking systems, recently wrote that “cars have become scary again”.
Within days of writing that, Reuters quoted a nationally recognized expert in automotive product safety scheduled to testify before Congress as saying: "Complaints of sudden acceleration soared more than tenfold when Toyota switched to an electronic throttle for the 2002 model year Camry, its best-selling vehicle.”
It appears many cars accelerate without warning, according to government records. Toyota has the highest number of reported incidents, Ford is second. And, it appears Ford, which also employs sophisticated software-dependent speed control systems on its cars, may have to wrestle with the customer-service and reputational public relations nightmares caused by vehicles that accelerate without warning. They have been sued for an accident in which an elderly woman was injured involving unintended acceleration in a Mercury Marquis. The suit claims Ford is aware of similar issues on other models it makes.
An elderly man in Las Vegas recently lost control of his car and struck another vehicle. He told police his car accelerated without warning. The police ticketed him. The state subsequently revoked his license.
“No one believes me, they think it was my fault,” he said. His friends report him depressed now that he has lost his right to drive. “I’ve lost my freedom,” he said.
The situation is bad enough that Consumer Reports has developed a five-point guide for dealing with a runaway car. Here’s their checklist of what to do:
1. Brake firmly
2. Shift into Neutral (don’t shut the engine off yet!)
3. Pull off the road to a safe spot
4. Shut off the engine
5. Finally, shift the transmission into Park or, with a manual transmission, set the emergency brake.
Then get out of the car. Don’t restart the car and drive.
Experienced product liability attorneys and auto accident lawyers have filed suit on behalf of injured drivers who report faulty gas pedals caused cars to accelerate without warning. Safety Research says the number of unintended acceleration cases totals in excess of 2,200, with 26 accidents resulting in deaths.
A recent report by Edmunds Auto Observer includes a chart showing the number of consumer complaints of sudden unintended acceleration to the National Highway Traffic Administration. Since 2005, the chart shows Toyota has 1,133 complaints. Next is Ford, including Ford, Lincoln and Mercury models, with 387 complaints; Chrysler, including Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge models, with 171 complaints; General Motors, including Chevrolet, Pontiac, Cadillac, GMC, Saturn, Saab, Buick and Hummer brands, with 152 complaints; Honda, including its Acura division, with 113 complaints; and Nissan, including its Infiniti, Division with 62 complaints.