The AP (3/18) reports that according to a new report from the California Highway Patrol, “an officer saw brake lights flashing after arriving to help slow a speeding Toyota Prius on a Southern California freeway. The lights were on ‘for a period of time and would turn off, indicating the driver was possibly pumping the brakes,’ CHP Officer Todd Neibert wrote in his seven-page incident report.” However, the report “did nothing to clarify the wildly divergent versions of events from Sikes and Toyota Motor Corp.”
A separate AP (3/18) article about the report notes that Neibert “arrived to find a Border Patrol agent near the driver with lights flashing. The Border Patrol presence raises the prospect that there were other witnesses, but the report offers few new details.”
Reports of post-recall sudden acceleration jump. The AP (3/18) reports that it’s analysis of NHTSA data indicates a nearly two-fold surge in “complaints of sudden acceleration in Toyotas repaired under recalls” in the past two weeks. “The complaints from 105 drivers raise questions about whether Toyota’s repairs will prevent the cars from speeding up on their own or if there is another reason for the problem.” NHTSA “said it was contacting owners who have complained about their repaired vehicles. David Strickland, NHTSA’s administrator, said in a statement Wednesday the agency has found ‘several instances in which a dealer made mistakes in applying one of the recall remedies.’ He said NHTSA has discussed the issue with Toyota, which is trying to improve instructions to dealers.”
Toyota facing RICO charges. Meanwhile, Reuters (3/18) reports that attorneys in class-action litigation against Toyota over lost resale value are now including racketeering allegations, which could triple Toyota’s potential liability.
NHTSA, Toyota continue investigating Prius that crashed in New York. The AP (3/18, Fitzgerald, Strumpf) reports that NHTSA and Toyota “inspected a crashed 2005 Prius in a suburb of New York City on Wednesday to see if its event data recorder or wreckage could point to problems with the brakes or accelerator. … On Wednesday, six Toyota inspectors, two from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and other experts huddled around laptop computers and examined the gray Prius under a tent outside the Harrison police headquarters.”
The AP (3/18) reports that after Toyota and NHTSA investigators inspected the vehicle, a Toyota spokesman said that the “black box, known as an event data recorder, yielded information on engine speed and pedal position. … Investigators were still downloading additional data, he said.”
California woman hospitalized, claims brakes in Toyota minivan failed. The Fresno Bee (3/16, Guy) reports that a California woman “is in a Fresno hospital recovering from injuries she says she suffered when her Toyota’s brakes failed and the minivan slammed into a truck. … The 2008 Sienna is not among the cars listed in the Toyota recall.”
Toyota, NHTSA investigating Corolla engine stalls. USA Today (3/18, Healey) reports that NHTSA is “probing a flaw that could cause popular Toyota Corolla compacts to stall, a problem that Toyota says is likely to affect only a tiny number of cars. Although some owners have said cars stalled in intersections or on highways, Toyota says the issue shouldn’t be considered a safety problem.” NHTSA records indicate that the problem originates with the vehicles’ engine control modules, and that Toyota has been aware of the issue “for at least 2 years.”
Bloomberg News (3/18, Ohnsman) reports that Toyota “is reviewing complaints linked to electronic control units in Corolla and Matrix small cars sold in the US that may cause the engine to shut down.” The faulty ECMs are “in 1.19 million model 2005 through 2007 vehicles, Toyota told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in a March 2 letter the company provided to the media today. Toyota doesn’t believe there’s an immediate safety issue related to the problem and hasn’t determined whether a recall will occur, said Brian Lyons, a company spokesman.”
From the American Association for Justice news release.