No electronic flaws found in Toyota vehicles: U.S. study

08:50, February 09, 2011      

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NASA engineers found no electronic flaws in Toyota vehicles capable of producing the large throttle openings required to create dangerous high-speed unintended acceleration incidents, showed a ten-month study released on Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The two mechanical safety defects identified by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) more than a year ago -- "sticking" accelerator pedals and a design flaw that enabled accelerator pedals to become trapped by floor mats -- remain the only known causes for these kinds of unsafe unintended acceleration incidents, the fresh study report said.

"We enlisted the best and brightest engineers to study Toyota's electronics systems, and the verdict is in. There is no electronic- based cause for unintended high-speed acceleration in Toyotas," said Ray LaHood, the U.S. Transportation Secretary.

NHTSA launched the study last spring at the request of the U.S. Congress, and enlisted NASA engineers to conduct new research into whether electronic systems or electromagnetic interference played a role in incidents of unintended acceleration. A preliminary part of the study, released last August, failed to find any electronic flaws based on a review of event data recorders, or vehicle black boxes.

Toyota's safety issues received broad attention from the government after four people were killed in a high-speed crash involving a Lexus near San Diego in August 2009. NHTSA has received about 3,000 reports of sudden acceleration incidents involving Toyota vehicles during the past decade.

"NASA found no evidence that a malfunction in electronics caused large unintended accelerations," said Michael Kirsch, Principal Engineer at the NASA Engineering and Safety Center.

As a result of the latest findings, NHTSA is considering taking several new actions, including proposing rules, by the end of 2011, to require brake override systems, to standardize operation of keyless ignition systems, and to require the installation of event data recorders in all passenger vehicles; beginning broad research on the reliability and security of electronic control systems; researching the placement and design of accelerator and brake pedals, as well as driver usage of pedals, to determine whether design and placement can be improved to reduce pedal misapplication.

"While today marks the end of our study with NASA, our work to protect millions of American drivers continues," said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. "The record number of voluntary recalls initiated by automakers last year is also very good news, and shows that we can work cooperatively with industry to protect consumers."

Toyota has recalled more than 11 million vehicles globally since the fall of 2009 to address sticking accelerator pedals, gas pedals that became trapped in floor mats, and other safety issues.

Source: Xinhua

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