Monday, July 16, 2012
Senator Questions NHTSA on Toyota Investigation
In an article carried by 91 outlets, the AP (7/13) reported that Sen. Charles Grassley sent a letter Thursday to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration which questioned "whether the government thoroughly investigated electronic gremlins that could have caused Toyota vehicles to accelerate unexpectedly." According to Grassley, "key questions remain unanswered about what caused Toyota's unintended acceleration problems, despite investigations by NHTSA and NASA that found electronic defects weren't to blame." Specifically, "Grassley questions whether a phenomenon called 'tin whiskers' inside the gas pedal assembly or other electronics could be a cause, citing information sent to his office by whistleblowers." In his letter, Grassley requested that NHTSA explain its stance on tin whiskers and whether they could have caused unintended acceleration in Toyota. NHTSA said it would respond to Grassley's letter. Lynda Tran, a NHTSA spokeswoman, said in a statement that the known reasons for unintended acceleration in Toyotas were sticking accelerator pedals and gas pedals that became trapped by floor matting.
The Los Angeles Times (7/13, Puzzanghera) reported, "Grassley said whistle-blowers recently have provided his office with information suggesting that the investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, with the help of NASA engineers, 'may have been too narrow." Grassley also wrote "that NASA engineers said just because they did not find proof that Toyota Motor Corp.'s electronic throttle control system caused the reports of unintended acceleration 'does not mean it could not occur.'"