If you haven’t been following the Toyota hearings in the U.S. House, then you might not know about the testimony given by Rhonda Smith. You can catch up on the details from our previous article talking about possible flaws in Toyota’s electronic systems (more here), but the net is that a Smith’s Lexus ES 350 sped out of control with her unable to turn it off, take it out of gear or stop it.
The testimony was called “harrowing” and the speeds of 100 mph could have had a deadly result if the car hadn’t finally shut down of its own accord. Now the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (N.H.T.S.A) is going to inspect the Lexus ES 350 again. Yes, we said again. The car was originally inspected in 2007 by the N.H.T.S.A and the final report found that the addition of unsecured large all-weather rubber floor mats were the most likely cause of the incident.
Now that the testimony has come in front of the U.S. House Committee, Congress is now questioning whether U.S. regulators probed into the problem deep enough. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said, “NHTSA will thoroughly examine the Smith's car as we work to get to the bottom of possible causes for sudden acceleration.” The question now is what they will find. Unless Smith is telling a tall tale, it is hard to believe a floor mat would cause the vehicle not to turn off when the key is turned to the off position.
Bottom line—Toyota is still under scrutiny, but the final verdict hasn’t been cast.