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Toyota president expresses regret over fatal crash in U.S. due to floor mat

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Similar situation occurred with Mr. Guadalupe Gomez's 2007 Toyota Camry that careened out of control, mysteriously accelerating to over 100 mph on a San Jose, California highway in 2007. He tried to kill the engine as he dodged traffic on the busy freeway, pushing the ignition button, kicking the accelerator and changing gears. But his Camry would not stop until he smashed into the Honda Accord. No one quite believed his story that the engine simply surged on its own when it smashed into a Honda Accord, killing its driver in a burst of flames. Toyota was attempting to put some blame on him, and also the CHP wanted to blame him. He did everything he could to stop the car and prevent him from crashing. Toyota's response was what their attorneys wants to do to minimize the involvement, or denial, which is normal. Gomez was in a legal nightmare for vehicular manslaughter. Recently, the attorney that sued Gomez extended their sympathy and District Attorney decided not to file any charges after they concluded that they could not prove criminal liability without a reasonable doubt.

This not only Toyota's problem, Ford Pinto had problems with design of gas tank in the 70's, which, if it was rearended at a high speed, would burst into flames. GM has it's share with side gas tank on their pickup trucks that resulted in same situation as Pinto. All manufacturer has some type of design flaws, based on sometimes economic decision or just blatent bad faulty design. Toyota will pay out millions and will continue to to business as usual.

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Alright, enough of the "blame the driver" posts we see driveling out here.

Did you even bother to read those posts? How about re-reading my 3 Oct, 2:36am post? Pay special attention to the first paragraph, regarding police training, and the last paragraph, describing my personal experiences with sudden acceleration.

You "hindsight 20-20" folks are showing a lot of disrespect for the driver and his family.

Are the investigators disrespecting the driver and his family? Because they use 20-20 hindsight in their investigation. They can't figure out why the driver didn't just put the transmission into neutral either.

The car managed to reach 120mph (193kph) before it crashed. And this was an ES350 carrying four people, not a Bugatti Veyron. There was time to put the car into neutral. So why didn't he? Do you have an answer, or are you just going to tell us to stop questioning?

I think you've confused callousness with curiosity. It's sad that a family died, but there is nothing I can do to bring them back. However, there are things we can learn to prevent another such accident from happening, but only if questions are asked. Simply grieving won't accomplish that.

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Alright, enough of the "blame the driver" posts we see driveling out here. You "hindsight 20-20" folks are showing a lot of disrespect for the driver and his family. What we know for sure is that the car accelerated out of control. He tried to brake, but lost power in the brakes. As for the 911 call, it wasn't the driver but his brother in law in the passenger seat. He was a 19 year California highway patrol officer, and for all we know he knew he was about to fly into an intersection (where know they were eventually hit, flipped over, and killed in a fiery crash) and was trying to get the traffic lights switched to red or some kind of poilce help to block traffic so they could pass through. Blaming the driver for anything here is absurd ! As for Toyota, well, they are about to go through one hellish legal battle to save their company. A combination of previous reports, an obvious design flaw, and the presidents most recent whining about how bad is market is, yeh, the same day he dropped a "too bad" comment regarding the deaths of a family of four including a young girl, well I sense some angry consumers and a very stunned American public. Talk about callous !

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Here in the heart of the Cdn Rocky Mountains we are subject to SNOW & that can mean a mess on your floor mats from the factory. I note Subaru has one portion of the floor mat hooked to the rear, STILL I like to toss in a rubber matt AND daily I haul it out & make sure it is clean & in the correct place.

Also have only used manual shifts in cars/truck, to m/cs so to me to slow down FAST I not only use my brakes, but am also shifting down, using the engine as part of he brake, & you SHOULD be in first gear when you are haulted behind a stop sign/red light or traffic still in front of you.

Unfortunately automatic transmission has made it TO easy for so many drivers & most will forget the easy to reach hand brake lever.

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sfjp330:

It's not about more training. You have too many innocent people being killed In the U.S. resulted from leniency in drunk drivers law.

I didn't say that more training would prevent all traffic deaths. But it would certainly decrease the rate. That's just common sense.

Every state has different rules for drunk driving. If you get caught drunk driving and convicted, they should make automatic suspension of your license on a first time offense for one year and see if this reduces drunk drivers and deaths. Maybe second time conviction, 6 month in Jail. Make it difficult for drunk drivers. This will send strong message and you will see the reduction in drunk fatalities.

Here in Tennessee, the first offense brings an automatic 6-month suspension of the license and 48 hours in jail. That's probably pretty common in the U.S. At first, this didn't keep the drunks from driving, because they still ahd their cars. So now the cars are impounded too. The DUI rates were falling each year, until we had an influx of illegal aliens from south of the border. They brought their culture of driving drunk with them, and the rate of arrests DUI-related accidents and fatalities followed. Again, not bashing, just statistical facts.

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If this instance is so "extremely regrettable," maybe Toyota should fork over some "We're sorry" cash to the relatives of the deceased.

No. They should sue god because they prayed and still died. Bottom line is, the driver should have been able to make the car slow down by putting it in neutral. Why he didn't do this, nobody knows. Like somebody said before, the floormat was aftermarket and it was a rental car. The rental car company should make sure its cars are safe before letting them go on the road. Toyota shouldn't be recalling these cars if it is an isolated incident. That they did the recall shows they have a strong sense of corporate responsibility. No wonder they're the #1 car company in the world.

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but if Americans in general were required to have more training before they could use a car, many, MANY deaths could be avoided every day.

It's not about more training. You have too many innocent people being killed In the U.S. resulted from leniency in drunk drivers law. Every state has different rules for drunk driving. If you get caught drunk driving and convicted, they should make automatic suspension of your license on a first time offense for one year and see if this reduces drunk drivers and deaths. Maybe second time conviction, 6 month in Jail. Make it difficult for drunk drivers. This will send strong message and you will see the reduction in drunk fatalities.

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isthistheend

I'm neither laughing about this accident nor bashing American police.

Their driver training is rare, and typically limited to pursuit (intimidation tactics, not car control) and spinning the other car. Likewise, they might get to the firing range once or twice a year, while citizen gun owners and criminals typically practice once or twice a month. In a recent investigation, the hit ratio (number of shots that hit the intended target vs total number of shots fired) of police involved in shootouts with criminals was very low, and the criminals actually had much higher hit ratios than the police in the same shootouts. I'll see if I can find the report again for you.

The above paragraph (and my preceeding post) is a collection of facts, not bashing. If I had called the CHiP officer an "idiot", that would have been bashing. Just because someone has the authority to write traffic tickets, that does not make them a more capable driver, it just means they know the rules. Just as a referee knows the rules, but not does put on the pads and sign up with a major league team. If you want a driving expert, go to a race track. If you want someone arrested, call the police.

Five people died, and that's very sad. It was also very avoidable. there might be a manufacturing design problem with Toyota products, but if Americans in general were required to have more training before they could use a car, many, MANY deaths could be avoided every day. We're losing our resourcefulness (it seems perhaps the Japanese are too) and becoming too dependent on this service and that to make it through our daily lives.

I had to go through a special motorcycle school to get my endorsement on my driver's license. I had to go through years of training to get my pilot's license. A truck driver has to go through a month of training to get his Class-A rating and drive a semi/lorry. But anybody in the U.S. can get a general license to drive any vehicle up to 26,000 lbs (a large SUV is about 5,000 lbs) by taking a multiple-choice quiz and drive around a block. And then they don't get reviewed for the rest of their life. Even if they get a DUI (or several) or get in a fatal accident, it's just a matter of money and attorneys to get their license back, not any skills testing.

On the other hand, car manufacturers have to design cars that any idiot can operate, and survive if they can't operate it proficiently. The federal government of the United States of America says so. The burden is placed on the manufacturer, not the end user.

Don't you see something wrong with that picture? The accident in this article may just be an example of what's wrong.

To address any "easy-for-you-to-say" thoughts, my father once had a 1980 Datsun/Nissan pickup that I occasionally drove to school. The throttle would routinely get stuck wide open, even though I didn't puch the pedal that far (Honest Dad, I swear!). It happened almost every morning, and my dad didn't want to spend the $180 for the ignition part to fix it. And every time it happened, I pushed in the clutch, turned off the ignition and re-started the truck, all while rolling down a steep hill. I was not a police officer, a racing driver or truck driver, I was just another 17-year-old on his way to school.

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Yeah, they died and that's tragic. But honestly, if there was time to call 911 why on earth didn't they fix the problem by any of the suggested methods? OK, it's a bad design. But I don't think it is wholly Toyota's fault that these people are dead. Probably not Toyota's fault at all. Complain that I'm an insensitive slob all you want but I'm putting the driver in for a Darwin award.

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Come ON now, Whitehawk. Talking about thrashing and bashing the dead! Hello? No matter how "funny" or "hard-to-believe" storyline you read into this tragedy, may I repeat, the people DIED. Did you also laugh at the victims who stuck in a Shindler's elevator, crushed in a JRWEST railway accident, or other such "preventable" accidents? Please don't use this terrible deathly misfortune as a forum for bashing USA cops!

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it's funny how people here always want to pass judgement on the victims. i'd hate to be married to you all. i can hear it now...'i told you so...how could you be so stupid...if you had only listened to me'..etc.

Hahaha, that's why internet forums were invented: Their spouses stopped listening.

This is the first I've heard of this accident, but not the first I've heard of the recall. I doubt it mattered if the driver was a CHiP, as police officers in the U.S. aren't known for being the best drivers. Or the best shots, for that matter.

I don't understand this mentality of calling 911 first either. Someone can't remember to put the car in neutral and use the handbrake because they're panicked, but they can dial 911, talk to the operator and pray? Next thing you know, people will call 911 if a drive-thru gets their junk food order wrong. Oh, wait...

Now if an experienced racing driver had a fatal accident because of the floor mat, especially if there was time to call 911 and pray, I would be surprised. But the lack of driver training and testing in the U.S. means that just about anything can cause a driver to "lose control" of their car (as if they ever had control in the first place).

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If this instance is so "extremely regrettable," maybe Toyota should fork over some "We're sorry" cash to the relatives of the deceased.

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i read toyota has recalled millions of floor mats because of this issue.

it's funny how people here always want to pass judgement on the victims. i'd hate to be married to you all. i can hear it now...'i told you so...how could you be so stupid...if you had only listened to me'..etc.

what a nightmare.

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The driver was a California Highway Patrol officer. As he (or the other male passenger) called 911, he said he had lost the brake. Why he didn't think of throwing it into neutral, I don't know. The car was a loaner car from a Lexus dealer, and the floor mat was an aftermarket product.

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I had an empty beer bottle roll under my brake once. I reached down, picked it up, finished it off and braked fine. personally, why buy floor mats? Does not make sense to me. When you go to junk the car, and remove the mats, you got this beautiful carpet underneath being junked along with the car. I want my carpets to age with the car. The people that do not reach down and pull the mat out should not be driving.

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Plenty of things this unfortunate driver could have done instead of calling 911, switch the ignition off and brake, throw it into neutral etc.

Yeah, I wonder why that happened. The driver did take the time to call 911 and pray. Maybe they were inexperienced as a driver?

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This has happened to me a couple of times over the years with badly fitted or unsuitable floor mats, no big deal, reach down and move the mat. Plenty of things this unfortunate driver could have done instead of calling 911, switch the ignition off and brake, throw it into neutral etc.

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If the accelerator got stuck then the driver may panic and... Well 4 die. Even if you slam her into neautral it'll be a while till you slow down to a stop. Handbrake would be the best option but many will not think of that or have the skill to stop the car before the cable melts. Manual car use the gears and handbrake combi but again if it's a sudden stop that's needed...4 die. A sad thing.

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The floor mat is thought to have jammed the gas pedal to the floor.

http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local-beat/Deadly-Accident-Prompts-Floor-Mat-Warning-59394687.html

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perhaps it bunches up behind the break pedal?

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If the accelerator is stuck down, if you put the car in to neutral, wouldn't it eventually slow down?

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Floor mat going on top of the gas pedal? It happened in my Land Cruiser a couple times. How else could the floor mat cause an accident? Preventing the brake from going down?

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