While Toyota’s problems with unintended acceleration in their vehicles have garnered much media attention, Toyota is hardly the only car company to experience these problems. Audi experienced similar issues in the 1980′s from which it took them a decade to recover in the American market. Honda, Jeep, Mercedez-Benz, Hyundai and Kia have all had reported issues over the years.
Most recently brought before the court with alleged unintended acceleration issues is Ford. In fact, according to the Transportation Department’s inspector general, a 2011 report revealed that Ford actually had the same number of deaths and injuries from these acceleration issues as Toyota: 374 from 2003 through 2009. Ford alone received 22% of all of the complaints regarding unintended acceleration during that period. That’s more than any other single car manufacturer.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA’s) data shows that complaints regarding Ford vehicles increased dramatically from 2005 to 2007. Injuries from acceleration issues peaked between 2004 and 2006.
A spokesperson for Ford though, has released a statement that the NHTSA has investigated many cases of alleged unintended acceleration over the years and has found that driver error is more commonly the cause of these accidents. They also stated that the NHTSA is much more “scientific and trustworthy than work done by personal injury lawyers and their paid experts”.
The NHTSA also could not find evidence of electronic malfunctions in Toyota vehicles in a 2011 report it did with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Nevertheless, Toyota recently settled a class action lawsuit for $1.1 billion to put the matter to rest. Toyota, as well as BMW, Mercedez-Benz, Audi and Volkswagen, have all begun installing brake override systems into every vehicle they make. These brake override systems will stop the car when the brake and the gas petal are activated at the same time. Ford also began installing these “brake override accelerators” into its vehicles in 2010.
Despite the fact that the NHTSA concluded that most of the Toyota alleged acceleration issues in Toyota vehicles were due to driver error, the recall of nearly 10 million vehicles and the publicity as well as the congressional hearings, have prompted the NHTSA to propose a rule which would require all vehicles to have a brake override system.
The case recently filed against Ford was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia and includes 20 Ford owners in 14 states. The case covers Ford vehicles made between 2002 and 2010 and alleges a “design defect” in the electronic control of the gas pedals which made the vehicles susceptible to sudden, unintended acceleration. The lawsuit alleges that the vehicles should have had a brake override system and is seeking damages for the reduced value of the vehicles.
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