has reached an out-of-court settlement with relatives of a family killed when the Lexus sedan they were driving sped out of control and crashed, an accident that put a national spotlight on the sudden acceleration problems that later prompted the automaker to recall millions of vehicles.
… The crash, which happened in August 2009 near San Diego, was documented with gripping evidence that that drew nationwide attention. A backseat passenger called 911 to say that the driver, an off-duty California Highway Patrol officer named Mark Saylor, was unable to stop the 2009 Lexus E350, which went as fast as 120 miles per hour on a freeway before hitting another vehicle and landing in a ravine.
Mr. Saylor, 45; his wife, Cleofe, 45; and their 13-year-old daughter Mahala died, along with Cleofe Saylor’s brother, Chris Lastrella, 39. It was Mr. Lastrella who told the 911 operator that the car’s pedal was stuck and ended the call by saying, “Hold on and pray.” The car was on loan from the nearby Bob Baker Lexus dealership while Mr. Saylor’s car was being repaired.
The settlement, according to Toyota’s statement, resolves product liability claimMark Saylors by the Saylor and Lastrella families against Toyota and the dealership. The families have separate claims against the dealership that were not covered.
Two months after the crash, Toyota began a recall that eventually covered 5.4 million vehicles globally in which the automaker said the driver-side floor mat could trap the accelerator pedal. It later recalled 4.5 million vehicles in which the pedals themselves were determined to be defective. Some vehicles were covered by both recalls, for a total of about eight million vehicles.
In February, Toyota’s chief executive, Akio Toyoda, apologized to Congress and to Mr. Saylor’s family, saying he would “do everything in my power to ensure such a tragedy never happens again.”
The recalls hurt Toyota’s sales and damaged its reputation for building high-quality, reliable vehicles. Thousands of complaints from drivers who say their Toyota-made vehicles accelerated suddenly poured in to federal regulators, which in April fined Toyota a record $16.4 million for waiting too long to initiate the pedal recall. The complaints are tied to at least 93 deaths. …
Toyota is continuing to defend itself against class-action lawsuits filed by Toyota owners and relatives of people who died in crashes alleged to have resulted from sudden acceleration. The company potentially could face billions of dollars in liabilities if it loses the cases.
Preliminary results released in August from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s investigation into the sudden-acceleration complaints revealed that in many of the crashes the vehicles’ on-board data recorder showed no evidence that the driver used the brakes. The findings suggest that some drivers were mistakenly pressing on the accelerator pedal instead of the brake. …
What is this BS about drivers not using their brakes? What the findings suggest that either someone tampered with the data or that the data recorders are wrong. If you are concerned with the idea of remote-controlled murder, you might want to get an older car, one without drive and brake by wire technology.
These acceleration problems probably involve “drive-by-wire,” an electronic rather than mechanical system for getting your right foot’s intentions to the engine. …
Cars use a wiring system called “multiplexing.” This sends many different signals for many different systems on one wire, saving about 150 pounds in wiring harnesses. But there’s a real danger of signals getting lost, mixed-up or working with the wrong systems. Combined with all the RF, the dangers are obvious, and frankly we may not be ready for all this high-tech just yet.
And who knows? The problem might be caused by electronics outside the car, like driving past a store with a burglar alarm can set off your radar detector. – huffpost