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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Fatal Solara day care crash spotlights electronic issues

Update 5/12/2014 - Statements from the Solara driver, made public today, are consistent with concerns about electronically-induced unintended acceleration. "... the Solars's brakes 'were not responding' and the car 'actually started to accelerate at a higher rate of speed.'" The Solara driver's statements are corroborated by witness accounts.

As information spreads about electronic issues associated with Toyota's unintended acceleration scandal, instances of runaway Toyotas are continuing. There have been two high profile cases in the past week in Florida, both pointing to the liklihood of electronically induced unintended acceleration. One happened Easter night when a Lexus barreled through the wall of a church. The other involved a Solara crashing through the wall of a day care, injuring many children, killing a four-year-old.

Florida Highway Patrol has now released a diagram of the KinderCare crash, which should resolve any notions - much ballyhooed by mainstream media - that the Solara was knocked through the wall when another vehicle hit it from behind. The diagram clearly shows that to be an impossibility. The Solara headed back at an angle in the opposite direction from where it was hit from behind, jumped a curb, went across a parking lot, and plowed through a wall.

There's more.

The driver of the Solara was turning a corner. Most unintended acceleration events are triggered at slow speeds, so the Solara's speed was typical. Furthermore, the driver probably had his foot on the brake. Embedded systems expert Michael Barr found that in such a situation (assuming the absence of a fail-safe), in order to get the brakes to work, a driver would have to immediately take their foot off the brake pedal and immediately reapply pressure.

It's ridiculous to expect someone to take their foot off the brake pedal when their car starts speeding out of control. No wonder the jury in Oklahoma - before whom Mr. Barr testified - not only found Toyota guilty, but also opined that the Recall King acted with reckless disregard for public  safety. From the article "Toyota's killer firmware: Bad design and its consequences" here's what Mr. Barr found:

>  Toyota's electronic throttle control system (ETCS) source code is of unreasonable quality.
>  Toyota's source code is defective and contains bugs, including bugs that can cause unintended acceleration (UA)
>  Code-quality metrics predict presence of additional bugs.
>  Toyota's fail safes are defective and inadequate (referring to them as a 'house of cards' safety architecture).
>  Misbehaviours of Toyota's ETCS are a cause of UA.

As the Solara case continues - the driver has not been charged with any wrongdoing - it's important to note that just because an unintended acceleration event doesn't show up on diagnostic equipment, that doesn't mean the event didn't happen. Dr. Antony Anderson recently completed a study - published in the prestigious IEEE Access - demonstrating how false speed signals can be accepted as authentic, thereby triggering unverifiable instances of unintended acceleration. Be cautious when a crook like Toyota - admittedly guilty of a federal criminal charge for misleading motorists - cites anything, including "black box" data.

Cases of unintended acceleration are continuing, and circumstances often point to defects in Toyota's electronic throttle control. Meanwhile, NASA physicist Henning Leidecker is warning of increased risk of electronically induced unintended acceleration in '02-'06 Camrys, comparing it to a game of Russian roulette. The public is being subjected to needless risk, and people are getting killed or seriously injured, apparently for no other reason than corporate greed.

How much longer is the government gonna allow a crook like Toyota to ignore compelling evidence of electronic defects in its throttle control?

Update 4/29/2014 - This just in: Today in Columbus, Ohio, a Lexus SUV crashed into seven cars, then a building, and the driver has made reference to a "stuck accelerator." Stay tuned.