About Those Sticking Toyota Pedals: Apparently It Mostly Happens To Older People

They say there’s lies, damn lies, and statistics. But a new set of statistics raises some interesting questions about the crisis that is currently hounding the Toyota Motor Corporation of Japan.

According to two separate reports over the weekend, there’s a statistical correlation between Toyota pedals that stick, and the age of the driver of the vehicle.

Theodore H. Frank in the Washington Times notes that “In the 24 cases where driver age was reported or readily inferred, the drivers included those of the ages 60, 61, 63, 66, 68, 71, 72, 72, 77, 79, 83, 85, and 89.”

Frank argues, along with Richard Schmidt in the New York Times, that the Toyota case has similarities to similar pedal sticking issues in the 80s with vehicles from Audi and General Motors.

Schmidt notes:

The trouble, unbelievable as it may seem, is that sudden acceleration is very often caused by drivers who press the gas pedal when they intend to press the brake….

In these cases, the problem typically happened when the driver first got into the car and started it. After turning on the ignition, the driver would intend to press lightly on the brake pedal while shifting from park to drive (or reverse), and suddenly the car would leap forward (or backward). Drivers said that continued pressing on the brake would not stop the car; it would keep going until it crashed. Drivers believed that something had gone wrong in the acceleration system, and that the brakes had failed.

But when engineers examined these vehicles post-crash, they found nothing that could account for what the drivers had reported. The trouble occurred in cars small and large, cheap and expensive, with and without cruise control or electronic engine controls, and with carburetors, fuel injection and even diesel engines. The only thing they had in common was an automatic transmission.

We’re don’t seek to suggest that there may not be issue with Toyota vehicles, but if the pedals are sticking, why is there a statistical correlation between age and incident? It’s a question worth asking.