Overblown Press coverage of Toyota 'incidents'

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MSI
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Overblown Press coverage of Toyota 'incidents'

Post by MSI » Tue Mar 09, 2010 5:50 pm

Mar 9, 2010: PANIC! PANIC! PANIC! That is the message emanating from NHTSA and piled on from the press. Toyota's Gone Wild!
This incident seems too well timed to offset the points scored by Toyota with their Mar 8, 2010 webcast refuting critics. Incidents of 'sudden acceleration' are rare (and normally associated with driver error), and with Toyotas they are still rare (50 some major incidents, maybe 1000 reports out of 8.5 million vehicles?) and what's the chance that another incident would happen so soon after the Toyota webcast and also in San Diego, near the scene of where the 'tipping point incident occurred?
Some initial background material on Sikes is like a Hollywood script;"He was too prepared to go straight to the media. He called 911 (NOT using a hands free unit, using both hands to dial and then realizing that perhaps he should more importantly be trying to control the vehicle, he put the phone on the seat?(so he couldn't hear the instructions to press on brake, turn off engine, etc.) He's a 61-year old real estate executive and longtime lottery player who won $55,000 and was selected in 2006 to appear on a California Lottery TV game show"
Let the press delve a little deeper before pressing the PANIC button and writing about mysterious unintended acceleration OR write that 'this incident ended without any issues AS ALL SHOULD!! Step on the brake, shift into nuetral, turn the vehicle OFF.

Feds to probe cause of runaway Prius in California EL CAJON, Calif. (AP) -- A Toyota Prius that sped out of control on a California freeway was towed to a dealership Tuesday while federal and company inspectors converged on the car to determine whether a stuck gas pedal was to blame.
"I pushed the gas pedal to pass a car and it did something kind of funny. ... It jumped and it just stuck there," he said.
A patrol car pulled alongside the Prius and the officer told Sikes over a loudspeaker to push the brake pedal to the floor and apply the emergency brake. The braking, coupled with a steep rise on the freeway, slowed the car to about 50 mph. (NOTE: FEAR FACTOR INJECTED INTO STORY since vehicles will slow to a stop from highway speed with braking alone...) Sikes then shut off the engine and the car coasted to a stop. CHP Officer Todd Neibert then moved his vehicle in front of the Prius to block it as a precaution.
See the story Feds to probe cause of runaway Prius in California
Also see his 5 minutes of fame on CNN with interview and realize that with all the media attention, his message will evolve.
Questions not asked: So you say your car went into sudden acceleration and rather than turn it off, step on brake, or put in neutral, YOU PICKED UP YOU HAND HELD PHONE, DIALED 911, AND DROVE WITH ONE HAND (no hands when dialing!) rather than deal with the situation? (which was probably his foot on the wrong pedal!)
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MSI
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Re: Overblown Press coverage of Toyota 'incidents'

Post by MSI » Wed Mar 10, 2010 11:11 am

Mar 10, 2010: And yet another! A woman, probably checking her cell phone or otherwise distracted while leaving her driveway says her Toyota's gas pedal stuck and she barelled across the street and into a wall. When in an accident in a Toyota, Blame the Toyota!
See Another Prius Gone Wild!
Here's the AP story Feds probe Toyota Prius crash in NYC suburb
I think AP must sell more copies of the stories when they have FED PROBE and TOYOTA in the title (2nd one in 2 days!)!!
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brian
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Re: Overblown Press coverage of Toyota 'incidents'

Post by brian » Sun Mar 14, 2010 2:16 pm

Mar 14, 2010: A continuation of the San Diego runaway Prius driver's strange coincidence incident the AP reports today that Lawyer defends Prius driver's story of stuck pedal
A lawyer representing Sikes is sticking by his client's story despite a congressional memo that raises questions about what happened. Attorney John Gomez said Sunday that he's unmoved by the memo saying investigators were unable to replicate the incident during an inspection last week. He also challenges a finding in the memo that it does not appear feasible that the gas pedal got stuck under Toyota's brake override system.
Gomez says James Sikes is not trying to get famous or rich from Monday's incident. He says the 61-year-old California man will not sue Toyota and is turning down media requests for interviews.
See the full story Lawyer defends Prius driver's story of stuck pedal

For another take on the story, see Runaway Prius Story: Fact, Fraud or Media-Induced Delusion From the story:
  • "The brakes were discolored and showed wear, but the pattern of friction suggested the driver had intermittently applied moderate pressure on the brakes," The Wall Street Journal reports, citing three unnamed sources familiar with the investigation. The newspaper says that the final report on the investigation is likely to cast doubt on the Sikes' account.
    The car's driver may have have had severe financial problems, Fox News reported. The network said "Sikes filed for bankruptcy in San Diego in 2008. According to documents, he was more than $700,000 in debt."
    According to USA Today, Sikes' 2008 bankruptcy court records list the Prius as a leased vehicle: He "owes" Toyota the value of the car, but only because it has to be returned at the end of the lease period, which is only a few months away. USA Today also says that Sikes was current on his payments for the Prius.
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Re: Overblown Press coverage of Toyota 'incidents'

Post by MSI » Wed Mar 17, 2010 3:01 pm

May 17, 2010: Toyota, US inspectors examine wrecked NY Prius
Some followup on the other event last week wherein a housekeeper who crashed her Toyota Prius told police that it sped up on its own as she eased forward down her employer's driveway on March 9 and hit a wall across the street. She was not hurt and authorities have said there is no sign of driver error.
we'll keep you posted on progress.
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Re: Overblown Press coverage of Toyota 'incidents'

Post by MSI » Mon Mar 22, 2010 3:18 pm

Mar 22, 2010: NY police agree driver error caused Prius crash
In yet another case of 'Blame it on Toyota' when a driver has an accident, the NY Police agree with regulators that the driver of an incident in Harrison, NY incident heralded by the press as yet another incident of Toyota's gone wild was actually another case of driver error. No mechanical or electrical failure and the gas pedal was depressed all the wy at the point of impact and there was no sign of brake application.
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Re: Overblown Press coverage of Toyota 'incidents'

Post by MSI » Fri Apr 02, 2010 12:19 pm

Mar 31, 2010: In a commentary in the Philadelphia Inquirer How a pit bull is like a Prius Like canine attacks before them, even minor or dubious Toyota accidents are becoming part of a big, scary story, Michael Fumento equates the pit bull terror issue of the 80's with the Toyota terror issue of the 2010's.
In 1986 the national networks aired spectacular footage of a pit bull attacking an animal-control officer. Suddenly, pit bulls had their incisors in the national consciousness. TV cameras were quickly on the scene of any pit bull attack. Attacks by other breeds were often blamed on pit bulls. Dan Rather called the sometimes pugnacious pooches "canine crocodiles." Yikes!
With Toyotas now, as with pit bulls then, individual incidents instantly bring out the cameras. Accidents that would have stayed local go worldwide in a flash, creating an impression of Toyotas running amok like something out of a Stephen King novel.
Information cascades sweep away journalistic skepticism. As Mr Fumento wrote on Forbes.com on March 12, virtually everything California driver James Sikes told the media about his allegedly runaway Prius was absurd, contradictory, or impossible. He said he was afraid to take his hands off the wheel to shift into neutral, yet he had a cell phone in one hand almost the entire time! Moreover, the 2008 Prius is rare in that it enables shifting with both hands on the wheel.
Meanwhile, a lot of Toyota owners - including Mr. Fumento's mom - have been terrified lately! (NOTE: What do you expect with the Congress to Toyota owners: Be afraid, be very afraid!
Investigating possible safety defects is one thing. But it's time to hit the brakes on the whole Toyota medis circus!
See the full commentary How a pit bull is like a Prius Like canine attacks before them, even minor or dubious Toyota accidents are becoming part of a big, scary story
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Re: Overblown Press coverage of Toyota 'incidents'

Post by MSI » Thu Apr 29, 2010 4:27 pm

April 27, 2010: LA Times by was of Concord, NH: In another chapter in the 'Blame it on the Toyota' game, like the Cold Case TV program, all old cases in which a Toyota was involved will be reopened to see if they can 'Blame it on the Toyota'
Federal probe set for Toyota crash that killed four
Federal officials plan to review a collision last fall that killed four people, three in a Toyota Highlander.
NHTSA said it was sending investigators to Peterborough, N.H., to conduct a field examination on the vehicle and would work with local officials probing the crash. The Columbus Day accident killed 63-year-old Stephen Lagakos, a Harvard University professor driving the sport utility vehicle; his 61-year-old wife, Regina; his 94-year-old mother, Helen; and 56-year-old Stephen Krause of Keene, N.H.
Police said the SUV sped into the breakdown lane then swerved across U.S. 202 into oncoming traffic.
Please also see our 'what the message from NHTSA should be' and 'why we are critical of the way NHTSA has handled this Toyota mess'
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Re: Overblown Press coverage of Toyota 'incidents'

Post by MSI » Wed May 26, 2010 9:30 am

May 25, 2010: So in keeping with the 'Blame Toyota' witch hunt, the NYTimes headline today states Sudden Acceleration Death Toll Linked to Toyota Rises
well not really...
"The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that from 2000 to mid-May, it had received more than 6,200 complaints involving sudden acceleration in Toyotas. The reports include 89 deaths and 57 injuries over the same period. Previously, 52 deaths had been suspected of being connected to the problem."
OK, so someone in a Toyota dies in an accident, and so of course with all the publicity IT MUST BE DUE TO sudden acceleration!
The article also includes as an aside "The automaker said many complaints in the database lacked sufficient detail that could help identify the cause of an accident"
see also Media Falsehoods...Now the Rest of the Story...
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Re: Overblown Press coverage of Toyota 'incidents'

Post by MSI » Fri Aug 06, 2010 9:35 am

August 5, 2010: Washinton Post: Driver in Toyota crash case freed as prosecutors decide against pursuing a new trial
The driver of a Toyota Camry that fatally careened into another family's car was freed from an eight-year prison term on Thursday.
The judge and prosecutors weighed and were swayed by "new evidence" that the accident might have been caused by defects in the vehicle. Once the judge called for a new trial for Koua Fong Lee, 32, prosecutors opted against trying him again.
His quest for a new trial became the highest profile test of the "Toyota defense," that is, attributing blame for a crash not on human error but on the highly publicized allegations that some Toyotas accelerate without the driver meaning to.
See the full article: Driver in Toyota crash case freed as prosecutors decide against pursuing a new trial
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