Approximately six million Toyota vehicles in the US have been recalled over troubles with the accelerator pedals. Toyota initially blamed the problem on floor mats that were allegedly entrapping the gas pedals, but experts and consumers have argued the problem lies with the accelerator pedal itself.
Senior executives from Toyota will likely testify before Congress in February.
Federal law requires that the NHTSA be notified within five days of discovering a safety defect and that a recall be immediately announced.
According to the 2/16/10 edition of BusinessWeek, both the NHTSA and Toyota face criticism for not moving quickly enough when they learned about problems with the accelerator pedals. If regulators find that Toyota was slow to announce the recall, the carmaker could face fines of approximately $16 million.
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According to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, there are more deaths related to unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles than in all other vehicles combined.
The Detroit Free Press noted that of the 13 deaths reported, 11 were corroborated either by eyewitnesses or physical evidence such as trapped floor mats. Other reports come from people whose loved ones died in accidents they think may have been caused by sudden unintended acceleration.
The Free Press reported that the NHTSA has received approximately 2,750 complaints about unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles in total, 750 of which came in after the recall was announced.