NHTSA's keeping a body count on people killed in Toyotas that supposedly experienced unintended acceleration...and the number is now 89. That's from 2000 to 2009 and jumps from the 52 reported earleir this year.
No, they're not new deaths...again, the cutoff is 2009...they're deaths that the feds think maybe had something to do with Toyotas roaring off on their own.
The Washington Post has the full story, but the Cliff's Notes are these:
Toyota can't find an electronic problem causing the cars to accelerate.
The Feds are insisting that they do.
NHTSA wants desperately to look tough and on top of the issue. Or as Mel Brooks said in Blazing Saddles,
The elephant in the room...that NHTSA doesn't want to talk about for fear of looking less than agressive and Toyota's tip-toeing around because it's bad PR, even if it's the truth?
The vast majority of properly investigated cases of supposed unintended acceleration turn out to be drivers standing on the gas when they thought they were standing on the brake.
And, as my Memo From Michael April 17 shows, none of the highly publicized incidents this year have done anything to disprove that or to even suggest an electronics issue.
Between NHTSA's agenda above, Toyota's fear of insulting consumers (Audi told the truth in the mid-80s and it very nearly put them out of business in America) and the mainstream media's breathless acceptance of every every claim of "my car tried to kill me" (followed by far less urgent follow-ups reporting driver error), it will be a a long time before most Americans figure out what's happening.