Investigation reveals NHTSA omitted eight deaths from SUA reports

posted on:
February 18, 2010

author:
Staff

Dateline 2/18/2010 -SRS Report Addendum. (Download)

Ongoing investigation into Toyota Sudden Unintended Acceleration (SUA) incidents reveal NHTSA excluded early reports of deaths between 2003 and 2004, delaying urgency of recall, action

MONTGOMERY, ALA. (February 18, 2010) – Safety Research & Strategies, Inc., (SRS) has released an Addendum to its Safety Research & Strategies Report, originally released Feb. 5, investigating the issue of Toyota Sudden Unintended Acceleration. Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, P.C., is a sponsor of this research, which examines the inconsistencies within the public record on SUA incidents involving Toyota vehicles. The addendum reveals that NHTSA excluded eight early reports of deaths linked to Toyota SUA from its official complaints, crash, injury and death counts. The omission occurred during the first two years of the NHTSA’s probe into the matter, which may have affected the recall remedy and scope of future recalls, downplaying the urgency and intensity of the situation. The new information would bring the official number of deaths related to Toyota SUA to 42.

“It is important to note that each of these eight deaths was reported to NHTSA and for whatever reason ignored,” said Beasley Allen attorney Graham Esdale, who has taken the lead on these cases for the firm. He believes the number of unreported deaths could be even higher. “It appears SRS only chose the most verifiable reports of death to include in its addendum, but Beasley Allen also is continuing to search for other deaths that are verifiable from sources other than NHTSA. Common sense would lead one to believe there are many more,” he said.

“Another very important point about the eight deaths is that all involved 2002-2004 year model Camry vehicles,” Esdale said. “This is important because the 2002-2006 year model Camrys have been completely ignored by Toyota in its recalls. A previously released Beasley Allen statistical analysis of NHTSA complaints shows these year model vehicles experience sudden unintended acceleration more frequently than do the recalled models. This is yet more evidence of Toyota not being forthcoming with consumers and NHTSA about the source of the problem with these vehicles,” he said.

The addendum points out that information contained in the eight omitted incident reports all allege that the vehicles involved in the crashes “raced out of control without driver input.” In one of these cases, the incident report notes that emergency personnel found the driver with both feet “jammed on the brake,” and lists “stuck throttle” in handwritten notes on the form.

In its original report, SRS said neither Toyota nor the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) had identified all the causes of SUA in Toyota and Lexus models, nor had the automaker implemented remedies that address the types of complaints consumers are reporting.

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