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In Black and White, Toyota Hysteria Exemplified (Forbes.com)

By Michael Fumento

It's not "live!" It's not even "In color!" And there's no sound. But it's quite stunning.

A surveillance video posted by Fox Chicago News Online shows a 2006 Toyota Corolla backing out of a parking space and striking a car. The Corolla then shoots forward and slams into another vehicle, knocking it aside. Next the car swerves, presumably in an effort to avoid a strip mall, and crashes into a brick wall. The driver, Leon Przybylowski, died of his injuries later that day.

Artist's conception of media view of all Toyotas

As I write in my new Forbes.com piece, "In Black and White, the Toyota Hysteria Exemplified," the family is now suing Toyota. They insist the video supports their claim that Przybylowski, as the newscaster put it, was "yet another victim of sudden unintended acceleration." Their lawyer says it was another victim of "across the board" and "systematic failure" on the part of Toyota. Both, huh?


    Actually, the incident is almost a perfect example of why Toyota SUA accidents really happen, comprising as it does:

  • Elderly drivers
  • Parking lots
  • A sensationalist media
  • Trial lawyers
  • Misconceptions about how cars work generally and throttles and brakes specifically
  • Ignorance, willful or otherwise, of solid data and substitution with presumptions, unwarranted allegations, and emotion

Oh, and gremlins.

There’s no systematic failure with Toyotas. Prior to the hysteria outbreak, only three sudden acceleration complaints were filed with NHTSA regarding 380,000 Toyota Corollas model year 2006. Rather that failure has been that of the media in utterly failing to convey the importance of the above factors.

November 19, 2010 08:48 AM  ·  Permalink  ·  Automobile Safety ~ Toyota ~ Trial Lawyers