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New Unintended Acceleration Report Clears Toyota

It’s been almost a year since the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced that electronic defects were not responsible for the unintended acceleration of Toyota vehicles. Now an additional report from the National Research Council’s Transportation Research Board backs NHTSA’s decision, but says that the agency didn’t effectively address concerns regarding the issue.

“The Research Council report finds NHTSA's decision to close its investigation of Toyota's ETC justified on the basis of the agency's investigations,” NRC says in a press release. “However, it is ‘troubling’ that NHTSA could not convincingly address public concerns about the safety of automotive electronics.”

NHTSA issued a statement in response to the Research Council’s concerns Wednesday. “NHTSA has already taken steps to strengthen its expertise in electronic control systems while expanding research in this area — and the agency has considerable experience dealing with vehicle electronics issues in its research, rulemaking, and enforcement programs.” The Administration added that it would continue to “assess potential safety concerns and help ensure the reliability of electronic control systems in vehicles.”

While the National Research Council agrees with NHTSA’s findings, it also suggests that vehicles should come with event data recorders. Edmunds writes that adding EDRs “shakes the hornet's nest of personal freedoms.” Although most new vehicles are equipped with a “black box”, the information they record prior to a crash is limited. Edmunds continues, “The report said NHTSA is considering making a rule mandating that EDRs be installed on all new vehicles and record much more data — and record it continually.”

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