According to new reports, at least 34 people have died in accidents involving Toyota Motor Corp. vehicles in the past 10 years due to sudden, unexpected acceleration of those vehicles. This number is indicative of the sharp rise in the number of complaints being filed since Toyota announced its latest recalls. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 13 of those fatalities have been reported since January 27, 2010, which is the day after Toyota ordered a sales and production halt on eight models in the United States.
The reason for the deaths and one of the reasons for the recall is that the gas pedals in certain Toyota vehicles can stick and cause unintended acceleration. The vehicles then suddenly race forward, smashing into other cars, buildings, and pedestrians. In addition to the deaths, 22 people have reported injuries from unintended acceleration accidents involving Toyota vehicles.
The jump in reported deaths caused by its vehicles demonstrates another troubling development for Toyota in a long line of dangerous defects. Many experts expect the onslaught of bad news to continue, especially with the House and Senate committee hearings upcoming in the next few weeks.
Noting the increased fatality total, Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety in Washington, said federal safety regulators were still only scratching the surface on the number of findings. “We are going to go over 100 without a doubt,” Ditlow said. “The only question is what the true number is.”
Of all the sudden acceleration related complaints on file for Toyota vehicles, only five such allegations have come from vehicles manufactured before 2002. The earliest is from a 1988 Camry that crashed into a brick wall. It appears that the reported fatalities and injuries are just the tip of the iceberg.