Toyota Owners Advised of Two Separate Recalls Involving Pedal Defects - At Least Five Deaths Reported

On February 1, 2010 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) informed owners of certain Toyota, Lexus and Pontiac Vibe vehicles about situations wherein the accelerator can get stuck or is slow to return under certain conditions. This was in response to reports of consumer concern regarding two separate safety recalls Toyota announced  involving accelerator pedals.   Each recall has a different root cause – pedal entrapment and sticky pedal.

Pedal Entrapment Recall.  In October, Toyota announced the recall of 3.8 million vehicles for accelerator pedal entrapment by the floor mat.   That recall was expanded to include another million vehicles.   When an accelerator pedal is depressed to or almost to the floor, as is done during attempts to merge onto a freeway or pass another vehicle at highway speeds, it can become trapped in the fully open position by an out of position or unsecured floor mat.

Consumers were advised to take out all removable floor mats on the driver’s side or ensure that any mats are properly secured.  NHTSA confirmed that 5 individuals, in 2 incidents, died as a result of pedal entrapment in the recalled vehicles. The government warned that failure to follow this advice with regard to removing or securing the floor mats could lead to additional deaths and injuries.

Sticky Pedal Recall.  In January 2010, Toyota announced the recall of 2.3 million vehicles for a problem internal to the accelerator pedal that causes it to be harder to depress, slower to return to the closed position or get stuck in some partially depressed position.  Some of the vehicles included in this recall are also included in the pedal entrapment recall. Toyota advised consumers to pay close attention to the operation of their accelerator pedals.

If you or a family member have suffered significant personal injuries as the result of a defective product, including automotive defects, contact the law office of Swartz & Swartz, P.C., one of the most successful product liability firms in the country. Call (617) 742-1900 in the Boston area, or for clients in greater Massachusetts, New England, or other states across the U.S., call toll-free at 1-800-545-3732.

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