Product Liability - Toyota Sudden Acceleration

Every few days it seems that another news article documents a Toyota product, including Lexus, suddenly going faster than the driver wanted. This has resulted in tens of thousands of complaints to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and lawsuits across the country for people who have been seriously injured or their loved ones killed. While it is true that some of the complaints were caused by driver error or objects jamming the gas pedal, such as floor mats, the main culprit appears to be random electrical signals.

To get an idea of what this means, think of a "rogue wave" out in the ocean. It used to be that there was no real proof of the existence of these "monster waves" that sailors reported sometimes being 100 feet high. Now, however, due to satellite imaging, the existence of the waves has been proven. They have also recently been documented on film hitting cruise ships.

Where do these waves come from? The most accepted theory now comes to us from the world of mathematics and specifically from the realm of "fractals." One such theory which is now being empirically verified by the existence of rogue waves, is that a seemingly regular current of energy that flows with even spacing will, for an as yet unknown reason, produce a "spike" in the current every now and again at times that are (as yet) unpredictable. So, going back to the ocean, the waves can roll up and down with the currents of energy in a lazy sort of fashion in 5 to 10 foot swells and then, unexpectedly, a monster rogue wave will appear inside the "calm" waters.

Electronic signals in the car can do the same. The car's electrical signals may flow in a familiar up and down wave pattern but every now and then a rogue "random" signal may appear. If there are too many electronic components in too small a space, the signals can interfere with each other.

Toyota gas pedals do not pull a lever anymore. When you step on the gas or set the cruise control, you are sending an electronic signal to the car's computer. If a stray signal from within the car or outside the car gets interpreted by the car's computer as a command to accelerate the car, the engine will suddenly accelerate.

While it may not be possible to eliminate these stray electrical signals, the auto industry has known for many years how to stop the signals from causing sudden acceleration. The answer is a brake override system where any pressure to the brake will be the primary command that will stop the car from accelerating. Many car manufacturers use this system, but not Toyota. Why? The easy answer is money. It costs money to retrofit automobiles. Beyond that, Toyota believes that their keyless system by which an owner with a small transmitter in their pocket can start the car by putting a foot on the brake and pushing a button is a safety device (because the car cannot be started by pushing a button with a foot on the accelerator) that Toyota doesn't want to give up. It has a "wow" factor that sells cars.

I have successfully handled product defect cases involving automobiles with engine design defects. If you or a loved one has been injured by sudden acceleration in a Toyota product, I would like to investigate this for you and to help. You can contact me through any of the phone numbers or email address listed on my web site at www.stephengorey.com.