WASHINGTON – Congressman Bart Gordon has called for further investigation of the Toyota Tacoma and other Toyota models by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the consumer protection arm of the U.S. Department of Transportation. Gordon first brought reports of accelerator problems in the Toyota Tacoma to the agency’s attention in 2007, and he continues to press for accountability in light of the recent string of recalls from the automaker.
“I have serious concerns about how major safety issues with Toyota’s vehicles have been addressed at the federal level. I raised those concerns when the problems first surfaced in 2007, and I’m raising them again now,” Gordon said. “I’m not satisfied that the agency charged with protecting drivers was taking reports as seriously as they should have.”
Gordon first contacted NHTSA in October 2007, prompted by reports in the local media of Toyota drivers experiencing sudden acceleration and lurching issues. Gordon highlighted the problems with the Toyota Tacoma and urged the agency’s administrator to “conduct a swift and thorough investigation to ensure the safety of consumers in Tennessee and around the country.”
NHTSA responded that it had purchased and tested a single truck, and had been unable to replicate the problem.
While drivers continued to file complaints with the agency, no recall was issued until September 2009, when Toyota stated that accelerator problems in some of its models, including the Tacoma, were caused by a faulty floormat. In January 2010, the automaker issued a second recall, acknowledging that many of the same models suffered from a more serious mechanical defect in the gas pedal mechanism. Gordon has again contacted NHTSA for answers, prompted by reports of further unresolved defects in the Tacoma and other models and troubled by the agency’s slow response.
“Six of the twelve models that were first recalled for a quick floormat fix have now been recalled again with more serious problems. As of now, the Tacoma isn’t one of them, which is troubling because it was the source of some of the earliest complaints, and because it remains the company’s best selling pickup,” Gordon noted. “NHTSA needs to be absolutely sure that the problem has been thoroughly addressed and meets a high standard of proof—higher than testing a single truck.”
Gordon is a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which will be holding a hearing on the effectiveness of Toyota and NHTSA’s reactions to consumer complaints on February 25th.