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Toyota Is In The Spotlight Again, Fatal Camry Crash In Utah

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On: Wed, Nov 17, 2010 at 10:19AM | By: Sherry Christiansen


Toyota Is In The Spotlight Again, Fatal Camry Crash In Utah

In automotive news this week, a deadly crash occurred in Utah that is being blamed on unintended acceleration of a Toyota Camry; the same problem that precipitated one of the biggest recalls in U.S. history.

The 2008 Camry crashed into a rock wall in western Utah, near the Nevada border on November 5th, killing the driver and a passenger. The vehicle was the subject of three recalls, the most recent recall was related to unintended acceleration in many Toyota models, including the 2008 Camry.

The incident has raised many questions about Toyota's repair of millions of recalled vehicles. According to federal safety regulators, the government has received many complaints from Toyota owners regarding recalled vehicles that continue to have problems, even after repairs were complete.

Founder of Safety Research and Strategies Inc. (a company that conducted studies on Toyota recalls), Sean Kane stated; "To think that Toyota has solved the problem with these recalls, I think the complaints show something different."

Over the past year, Toyota has recalled literally millions of automobiles as a result of “sticky gas pedals” and unintended acceleration that resulted in hundreds of lawsuits and steep federal fines.

Toyota spokesperson, Brian Lyons stated that it was too early in the investigation for any conclusions to be made about the exact cause of the Utah accident, as Toyota is still assisting the Utah Highway Patrol with its investigation. The vehicle black boxes will be examined to find out details about what happened mechanically right before the crash occurred.

Tire skid marks, noted at the crash site in Utah, indicate that the Camry driver attempted to stop the vehicle as it allegedly sped out of control. According to local police, the vehicle went through a stop sign at the bottom of a ramp as it exited Interstate 80, and then sped through an intersection before it crashed into a wall.

The driver, Paul Vanalfen, and one passenger was killed, two other passengers including the driver’s wife and son survived the accident but were injured.

"Based on statements from witnesses and statements from those that survived the crash inside the car, the investigator is led to believe that the pedal was stuck," Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Todd Johnson said. Johnson also stated that there was no evidence that the Camry’s brakes were defective.

The 2008 Camry was subject to recalls related to floor mats interfering with accelerator pedals, unsecured mats entrapping the gas pedal, and accelerators getting stuck causing the throttle to stay open.

Toyota inspected and repaired millions of vehicles by installing a steel reinforcement bar to prevent the gas pedal from sticking and installing. Toyota also installed a brake override system to provide a safety mechanism intended to prevent potential vehicles from speeding out of control. It wasn’t clear whether or not the brake override system was installed in the Camry that recently crashed in Utah.

Utah investigators stated they did not know for sure whether Vanalfen complied with any of the recalls, but Johnson said investigators believe Vanalfen had taken his car into the dealership to address the latest recall notice.

Toyota spokesman Paul Nolasco in Tokyo said that so far, he did not have details on whether or not the Camry involved in the Utah accident underwent recall repairs.

The NHTSA said it has received approximately 3,000 reports of sudden acceleration from Toyota drivers in the past 10 years, including 93 deaths. Government safety regulators have only confirmed 4 deaths, all resulting from one accident.

Toyota stated that the company has responded very “aggressively” to all safety concerns and reiterated that after examination of 4,200 vehicles, no electronic defects were identified that could be the underlying cause of the unintended acceleration problem.


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jimbo8252003 | 2:09PM (Wed, Nov 17, 2010)

Just mimics what I've been saying all along! Yeah, go ahead everybody and snap up all those great Japanese cars and trucks!!! Fools



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