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Toyota recalls: Thank Uncle Sam

Consistent pressure from US safety officials finally pushed Toyota into recalls and halting sales of potentially dangerous vehicles. 

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At a time when Americans have lost faith in government, it’s worth noting that it was US safety officials who pushed a reluctant Toyota to finally recall and stop selling millions of vehicles with a potential accelerator problem.

In 2007, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) told Toyota to recall certain vehicles because floor mats could entrap gas pedals. The auto giant agreed. Last fall, after a fatal crash near San Diego involving a Lexus and unintended acceleration, the safety agency told Toyota it expected a recall to address not only floor mats, but also pedal design. Toyota recalled 3.8 million vehicles.

In December, the acting head of the NHTSA flew to Japan to underscore that Toyota must find and report defects promptly. In January, after Toyota told the agency about a possible pedal “sticking” defect, agency officials met personally with the president of Toyota North America and other company representatives and demanded prompt action on sticky pedals. The company issued a recall and, after US urging, finally halted sales of eight models last week.

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