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Sudden Acceleration in Media Falsehoods Regarding Toyota

By Michael Fumento

"Now that the dust has begun to settle on Toyota's recall fiasco, it's being made clear that the toll on human life was greater than initially reported," reports U.S. News & World Report online. The title: "NHTSA: 89 Deaths Caused by Unintended Acceleration in Toyota Vehicles."

Not exactly true. Says who? NHTSA. Here's an email I received this morning from their press office.

Please remember these are customer generated complaints of alleged unintended acceleration that have not been verified by NHTSA:
"As of May 20, 2010, NHTSA has received complaints covering a total of seventy-one (71) fatal incidents that allegedly involve unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles since 2000. These reports covering incidents dating back to 2000 include eighty-nine (89) fatalities and fifty-seven (57) injuries."

The emphasis is original. They used both bold and italics to try to make the point. And it just doesn't seem to take, does it?

In fairness, often news outlets do make it clear these are mere allegations, but they never make it clear enough how tenuous the link is. You can send NHTSA a complaint online or by phone and claim absolutely anything you want. You say that your Toyota become a giant Transformer, wreaked havoc on Manhattan, and then became a Civic again? That's fine. The computer won't spit your complaint back out.

I went through the process on the NHTSA complaint page myself and was one keyboard tap away from turning those 89 deaths into 93 deaths.

And that's how 19 deaths associated with Toyota sudden acceleration in November, before the first class action suit was filed, has become 89 deaths. No, more people haven't died. More people have simply come to the conclusion that a death in their Toyota over the last decade was caused by sudden acceleration. The offer of lucre has a way of jogging the ol' memory.

I'll be writing more on this. Meanwhile, I've published 10 articles on the hysteria and there's a lot more where that came from.

May 27, 2010 10:21 AM  ·  Automobile Safety ~ Toyota  ·  Recent Posts