POSTED: Thursday, November 26, 2009 - 9:31am
UPDATED: Thursday, June 3, 2010 - 11:59pm
There's a massive recall from the world's largest automaker. Toyota says it needs to replace the gas pedals in nearly four million of its cars and trucks.
Those gas pedals can get stuck, causing sudden acceleration with sometimes deadly results. A gas pedal, stuck in the floor mat, caused a Lexus near San Diego in August to reach speeds of 120 miles per hour.
It slammed into an SUV, launched off an embankment and burst into flames. The accident killed veteran California Highway Patrolman Mark Saylor and three members of his family. The crash has forced Toyota to recall practically every brand of its late model cars and trucks.
But for some safety advocates, it's not enough. "It's going to cost them hundreds of millions of but unfortunately, it's not going to stop all the uncontrolled acceleration crashes that have occurred in Toyotas," said Clarence Ditlow of the Center for Auto Safety.
The recall doesn't cover older models, only those since 2005. As a temporary fix, Toyota will have dealers shorten gas pedal lengths beginning in January with newly designed pedals ready by April.
But critics say a more permanent solution is one Toyota isn't offering until next year called 'Brake System Override or "Smart Pedals." "That sense simultaneous application of brakes and accelerator and it will back off on the accelerator and let the brakes bring the car to a stop," said Ditlow.
All this follows weeks of wrangling between Toyota and the Federal Highway Traffic Safety Administration after Toyota tried to say the problem could be resolved by removing the floor mats on the driver's side. The recall affects 3.8 million Toyota, Lexus or Avalon brands. Safety experts advise all drivers who find themselves in any "sudden acceleration" situation to do this:
Press on the brake with both feet, shift the vehicle into neutral, and
continue braking until vehicle comes to a stop.