Toyota Urges Inspections Following CrashSep 18, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP
Another automobile accident linked to faulty floor mats has prompted action from carmaker, Toyota Motor Corporation. Bloomberg.com reported that Toyota advised its United States dealers to inspect how its floor mats are installed. The request followed the deaths of a California Highway Patrol officer and three family members when a floor mat in his Lexus sedan was likely caught in the gas pedal, said Bloomberg.com.
The accident took place near San Diego, reported Bloomberg.com, on August 28 when Officer Mark Saylor was driving a loaner from a Lexus dealership, according to Toyota. In 2007, the car giant recalled 55,000 Camrys and Lexus ES 350s in the U.S., replacing floor mats it said “could slip forward and snag the gas pedal, causing uncontrolled acceleration,” said Bloomberg.com. Preliminary investigation information “indicates the cause may have been an all-weather floor mat from a different Lexus model which, if installed incorrectly in the ES350, could cause it to interfere with the accelerator pedal,” said Toyota, quoted Bloomberg.com.
“We are instructing all of our Lexus and Toyota dealers to immediately inspect their new, used and loaner fleet vehicles and we urge all other automakers, dealers, vehicle owners and the independent service and car wash industries to assure that any floor mat, whether factory or aftermarket, is correct for the vehicle and properly installed and secured,” said Toyota company spokesman Brian Lyons, in an e-mailed statement, quoted Bloomberg.com.
In 2007, AutoUnleashed, reported that there were some 40 complaints concerning all-weather floor-mats in certain vehicles not being secured and slipping under the acceleration pedal. The problems caused eight crashes and injured 12 people at the time of the report, which noted the problem involved floor mats sold with the Lexus ES 350 and the 2007/08 Toyota Camry. The Lexus ES 350 poses a unique problem in that the vehicle is engaged via push-button ignition, said AutoUnleashed, which means it cannot be stopped by turning the key.
At the time, AutoUnleashed strongly suggested owners of the Toyota Prius, Avalon, RAV4, and Tacoma check those floor mats as well. AutoRecalls also reported that about 1,700 of certain models of the 2007 Mazda Speed 3 were recalled because certain vehicles were equipped with optional all-weather floor mats which provided “insufficient clearance between” the mat and the accelerator which might cause the pedal to became stuck behind the mat resulting in improper deceleration, increasing crash risk.
In December we wrote that, according to Newsday, at least one million vehicle recalls were linked to poorly designed or incorrectly used floor mats in the past 25 years. In a case late last year, Newsday also reported that a driver lost control of his car because a “bunched-up” floor mat sent his vehicle into a storefront holiday party on Long Island, injuring eight children—aged one through eight—and six adults. That accident involved a BMW.
Newsday previously explained that mat-related automobile accidents have resulted from a number of problems in mats made by a variety of makers, including pedals sticking to mats or mats “interfering” with one or more of the pedals. Newsday noted that, in 2006, a driver in Washington State was hurt when his car crashed into a ditch after the floor mat became wedged on the gas pedal. Also that year, a boy was hospitalized and his sister died in Canada after their mother lost control of the car, said Newsday, which reported that police said the mat was most likely to blame. In another mat-related accident, a truck—when the driver was attempting to back out of a parking spot—careened down a hill in Rhode Island and through a wall of a home, said Newsday.