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Were Toyota-Related Injuries Preventable?

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Seattle, WAThe recently announced Toyota safety recall over faulty accelerator pedals has left many Toyota owners worried about driving and angry that the recall wasn't issued sooner. According to some reports, officials knew about the defective pedals nearly two years before the recall, leading consumers to wonder how many injuries and deaths could have been prevented.

According to the Washington Post on 2/08/10, auto insurer State Farm warned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) back in 2007 about an increase in reports from Toyota drivers about unintended acceleration. The Post notes that State Farm warned regulators repeatedly about the issue, but regulators took more than a year to push Toyota to issue a recall.

A spokesperson for State Farm told the Post that there were numerous alerts regarding accelerator problems in Toyota vehicles, and that these alerts were not "everyday" occurrences.

Sean Kane, an expert on automotive safety, puts the figures at 19 deaths and 341 injuries caused by unintended acceleration, according to consumeraffairs.com.

Todd Allen is one of the 341 who might have avoided injury if the recall had occurred sooner. Brainandspinalcord.org reported on 2/05/2010 that Allen was pulling his Toyota Camry into a parking spot on January 29 when his vehicle suddenly accelerated. The car went over a curb and fell to the creek below, trapping Allen and the three other people in the vehicle upside down underwater.

Allen suffered serious injuries, including a possible spinal cord injury. His lawyer noted that Allen's condition has improved but that he still suffers from paralysis in his arms and legs.

According to reports, Allen had not heard about the recall before the accident.

Compounding Toyota's troubles are allegations that many other automakers installed brake override systems, in which the car's onboard computer recognizes when the accelerator and the brake are being depressed at the same time and puts the car's throttle to idle—a system Toyota is now installing in its own cars.

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