Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Fatal Accident Prompts Toyota and Lexus to Warn Drivers to Remove Floormat Due to Risk of Accelerator Getting Stuck

The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Toyota have eleased an official announcement to warn drivers of seven Toyota and Lexus models that there's a possibility that the accelerator pedal may get stuck in the full open position due to an "unsecured or incompatible driver's floor mat." Even though it may not sound serious at first, Reuters reported that the U.S. government said it has received reports of 100 incidents related to this problem including 17 crashes and 5 fatalities involving Toyota and Lexus vehicles.

In one of these accidents, it was reported that an off-duty California state trooper and three members of his family were killed in a 2009 Lexus ES350 crash in San Diego. Reuters said that before the crash, a passenger of the ES350 has called the police to inform them that the accelerator was jammed and the car had reached 120mph (193km/h) at that time.

Although the San Diego incident is still under investigation, meaning that it is not yet confirmed that the floormat is to blame, Toyota said that it wanted to take precautionary measures on the matter.

"Obviously the tragic accident in San Diego was certainly an eye opener for all of us and we've paid very, very diligent attention to moving forward to try to make sure none of us will be reliving that kind of a very tragic situation," said Toyota spokesman Irv Miller.

Overall, Toyota is planning to issue a safety recall on around 3.8 million vehicles due to the issue with the driver's floor mat.

The affected Toyota models are the 2007-2010 Camry, 2005-2010 Avalon, 2004-2009 Prius, 2005-2010 Tacoma and 2007-2010 Tundra.

The Lexus modes affected by the recall are the 2007-2010 ES 350 and 2006-2010 IS 250 and IS 350 sedans.

Surprisingly, this is not the first time that Toyota has faced a problem with the driver's floormat as in September 2007, the firm recalled an accessory all-weather floor mat sold for use in 2007 and 2008MY Lexus ES 350 and Toyota Camry sedans because of similar issues.

The Japanese company said that until it "develops a remedy", it is asking the owners of the above models to "take out any removable driver's floor mat and NOT replace it with any other floor mat."

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