Maybe the real threat isn't unintended acceleration

I am not trying to argue about how or why toyota has this problem, but one thing is for sure there is mass news hysteria about it. So far from what I can tell 19 people have died from it so far, lets be very liberal and say 100 people have died from it so far. This is terrible and the problem needs to be fixed and people educated about what to do in any runaway vehicle, and I am not trying to make light of those deaths but…

This year alone there have been 1371 drunk driving deaths in the United States last year there was 13,700 in 07 there was over 15000. Why are people so focused on a problem that is so small and unlikely to kill you when there is a much greater risk to driving. If only the news media made a big deal about a family or person being wiped out by a drunk driver, and we heard about it on the news day in and day out like the Toyota problem, would we save more lives? Or would it just bother to many people and make them feel guilty?

The real problem is lack of driver attention and not having the basic ability to put the transmission in neutral if a problem happens – Operator error.


PS: The real opportunity here is for sharks (i.e. lawyers) who smell blood and go after a company with lots of cash. 20 people died and it will cost Toyota over $1B to fix the problem – not a huge ROI. Better to spend $1B on health care for uninsured and save thousands of lives and teach people how to put their transmission in neutral if you ask me.

I agree.

I’ve long believed that the only way to significantly reduce drunk driving is

  1. impound the cars and arrest the drivers immediately upon failure of a field test
  2. keep the cars in impound until a finding is rendered. If the finding is guilty, the cars should be confiscated by the state and sold at auction, the money to be used in programs to reduce drunk driving.

This should be done whether the driver of the vehicle is the owner or not and whether the car is paid for or not. The holder of the loan would lose the vehicle and still be responsible for the loan balance, subject to all applicable finance law.

This would remove the vehicles from drunk drivers AND stop others from allowing drinkers to use their vehicles. It would also generate considerable revenue for programs to reduce drunk driving, 100% at the expense of the drunk drivers themselves.

The drunk drivers hopefully are aware of their risk and go forward in spite of their knowledge.
The driver of the car with a faulty system is not aware of the problem, and given the number of cars sold the potential problem is huge.
Granted the innocent victim of a drunk driver is not aware of the problem, but we have yet to control the drunk driver, we can control the sticking gas pedal (not acceleration) problem.

Twotone…well said…Ford is in the middle of a 6 million unit recall that has been going on for years with their “burning” cruise controls; where is the comparable outrage ?
All cars are designed to fail at some point and you have to be ready. We are all statistics for bean counters when we get behind the wheel. Otherwise, they would cost as much as an airplane with their double and triple redundancies.

Would you run for the state legislature in my state ?

I personally want to see mandatory prison for drunk drivers. Maybe let them get off with a hefty fine the first time…but the second…take away their license…and 1 year in prison. Third offense…10 years. You get one DUI…you won’t want another. There are people on the road today with over 10 DUI convictions.

I second two-tone and mountain bike. Deep Pockets is the key to lawsuits and makes big news. Toyota has them and drunks don’t. DUI death is so common it gets little attention outside of one mention in the local news. Changing laws to not let DUIs walk away after they are arrested appears to be the need.

I want their cars for good and their license…they can walk drunk for the rest of their anti social lives or take public transportation. The jails already are 75% filled with non violent offenders who couldn’t make bail, and I don’t want to pay for a drunk driver’s room and board.
Taking their cars for good is an elegantly simple solution that I hope will catch on.

The media in the Baltimore area does make a big deal out of drunk driving. It just doesn’t seem to change the laws. And mandatory sentences would not be needed if judges would be firmer in sentencing. They have a lot of leeway in the sentence, yet perpetual drunk drivers still end up on the road. IMO, penalties for things that legislators and other regular guys might get popped for tend to be less than for folks they don’t associate with. Traffic violations come to mind in addition to DUI.

And I think that people tend towards hysteria if they don’t and possibly can’t understand a problem. Those same people that are afraid of the brakes in a Toyota are willing to drive in rush hour traffic every day. But they are used to it, and the thought that they are more likely to have an accident in traffic doesn’t register because they have driven so many miles without incident.

this is the backward thinking i love to hear.

its like gun control, your more likely to die in a swimming pool, then in the presence of a gun. its because people arent educated that they fear guns, and are “familiar” with pools.
if people would learn to handle a gun, and familiarize themselves with them, people would stop the unnecessary worrying, and get on the issue of other “less dangerous” things.

drunk driving, as opposed to stuck gas pedal, is “controlable”. you can stop drinking, and YOU dont do it, but a mechanical thing can easily be blamed. who do you blame the drunk driving on? Miller? the bar? the host? your brain? surely you cant blame yourself when you havent killed anybody yet.

Alcohol impairs judgment, so to be honest, drunk drivers are also unaware of the problem. Cognitive dissonance also allows drunk drivers to stay unaware. To suggest drunks are aware of what they are doing isn’t really accurate. I am sometimes amazed at the human capacity to selectively think of, perceive, and understand the bad things we do.

I think we are capable of controlling drunk driving, we just aren’t doing it effectively yet. I believe it is that way because so many people do it, and get away with it, that the percentage of people caught is quite small. Better enforcement won’t happen as long as drinking and driving remains socially acceptable. As long as we let people drive home from bars and restaurants after consuming ANY alcohol, this will remain to be a problem.

The fact that swimming pools are more dangerous than guns doesn’t change certain facts. First, the USA has a higher per capita gun death rate than any other civilized country in the world. Second, just about everyone I know knows someone who has been shot. I don’t know anyone who has died in a swimming pool. I agree that guns aren’t the issue. The issue is violence, and guns an just one instrument of violence. I agree that controlling guns is treating a symptom of the problem, and not the problem, but sometimes treating a symptom is better than doing nothing. We have seen the crime rate in NY city go down when measures were taken to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. We have seen gun registration work in some places, but not others. Instead of just giving up, we should try to figure out what works and what doesn’t, and do the things that are effective.

you are right about treating the symptom, and not the cause, but read the book ‘freakonomics’.
the reason violince went down was because there wasnt anybody to commit crimes.

“Instead of just giving up, we should try to figure out what works and what doesn’t, and do the things that are effective.” I couldnt agree more.

I couldn’t agree more. The rub is, figuring out what indeed works is tough. The one consistent deterrent is the assurance of getting caught. Police on every corner may sound like police state, but many New Yorkers appreciate it. Otherwise, I’d consider starting with the car…

“I personally want to see mandatory prison for drunk drivers.”

I’ve though about this since you posted it. It concerns me that you or anyone else want to put people with a disease in jail. I agree that habitual drunks should lose their licenses until they prove that they have their disease under control. It strikes me that jailing them is like putting away anyone else with a disease that makes operating a car dangerous, like narcolepsy, for instance.

I’ve though about this since you posted it. It concerns me that you or anyone else want to put people with a disease in jail

Personally I don’t think it’s a disease. I think that word has been used far too much by people not wanting to take any responsibility for their actions.

Second if it IS a disease…it’s self inflicted.

It strikes me that jailing them is like putting away anyone else with a disease that makes operating a car dangerous, like narcolepsy, for instance.

BTW…if you have Narcolepsy you probably can’t get a drivers license…And if you drive a car with Narcolepsy and you don’t have a valid drivers license…then the same rules should apply. I suspect there are far less people driving around with Narcolepsy then there are Alcoholics.

“We have seen the crime rate in NY city go down when measures were taken to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.”

That puts me in the mind of a story, which I shall chuckle over quietly rather than clutter up the page here. It’s really quite funny.

Are you perhaps referring to the Sullivan Act, which was passed in 1911, and remains the main governing gun control legislation in New York? When, exactly, after 1911, did New York crime go down? Did it ever go up? Is it possible that you are simply wrong? Just so we’re on the same page, the Sullivan Act, the main governing gun control legislation in New York, was passed before World War I. Perhaps you’ve heard of it, it was a war in the very early part of the last century.

It is the illegal gun owners that are the problem.
Legal gun owners are not the problem, but the lets start with them is an absurd proposition.

NEW YORK?A new measure aimed at eliminating the steady flow of illegal guns into New York is being advanced by U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Carolyn McCarthy who point out that nearly 90 percent of the guns used in gun crimes in New York City come from out of state, and approximately 90 percent of these guns are illegal.

There are three different ways to deal with unintended acceleration:
(1) If your car has a manual transmission, push in the clutch pedal to disconnect the engine from the rest of the drive train.
(2) If your car has an automatic transmission, put both feet on the brake pedal and shove like hell until the car comes to a stop. Although the distance will be long, it will stop.
(3) With either transmission, shift into neutral.
If this happened to me, I would finish by shifting into neutral, setting the parking brake and leaving the engine screaming away. Then, I would call the nearest Toyota dealer, explain that I had caught one in the act, and suggest that they send a tow truck and not turn off the engine until an engineer had discovered the cause of the runaway.

That people are unable to cope with unintended acceleration is an indictment of driver education. Too many people regard an automobile as just another household appliance. It especially bothers me that one of the victims was a California highway patrolman along with his family. Since most of his duties involve making judgments about other people’s driving, I would expect him to be an expert driver. Yet, he proved to be unable to handle his own emergency.