On September 29, 2009, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. issued a consumer safety advisory concerning a potential risk for floor mat entrapment of accelerator pedals in certain Toyota and Lexus models. On November 25, 2009 the company then announced “details of the vehicle-based remedy to address the root cause.” The announcements publicize, in effect, the launching of the world's largest automaker's largest recall to date.

Models involved in the recall include (years are model years):

  • 2007 to 2010 Camry
  • 2005 to 2010 Avalon
  • 2004 to 2009 Prius
  • 2005 to 2010 Tacoma
  • 2007 to 2010 Tundra
  • 2007 to 2010 Lexus ES350
  • 2006 to 2010 Lexus IS250
  • 2006 to 2010 Lexus IS 350

The “details of remedy” announcement outlines measures Toyota is taking to improve the safety of the involved vehicles, including:

  • Training and equipping dealers to initially modify the pedals and eventually replace them. Customers who had their vehicle's pedals modified will be able to have them replaced when replacement parts become available.
  • For some models, the shape of the floor surface under the pedal will also be reconfigured.
  • Genuine Toyota and Lexus all-weather driver- and front passenger-side all-weather floor mats will be replaced.
  • Certain models will have a brake override system installed that cuts engine power when both accelerator and brake pedals are simultaneously applied.

The recall was prompted at least in part by a high-speed crash of a Lexus that killed an off-duty California Highway Patrol officer and his family in Aug. 28. The car's accelerator pedal had become trapped by a floor mat.

Disturbingly, however, the accident investigator's report does not rule out a range of other possible mechanical or electronic problems as the possible cause of the accident. And an inquiry into more than 1,000 reported acceleration events across the nation in the last eight years has left open a number of questions about their cause.

Toyota has indicated that more recalls may follow, and the automaker is wrestling to maintain its reputation after a number of recent recalls, including those for frame corrosion in certain Tundra pickups that can damage brake lines and dislodge spare tires, a defect in certain 2009 and 2010 model-year vehicles that can cause brakes to fail in cold conditions, and a steering related flaw announced in 2005 that potentially affected up to nearly one million vehicles.

While efforts to correct automobile safety defects should be lauded, they are no consolation for the victims and the families of the victims involved in accidents that were caused by these defects. And in too many cases, such accidents have been found to be preventable to begin with.

If you or a family member has been injured or killed in an accident in which a Toyota or Lexus vehicle suddenly accelerated, you may be entitled to compensation. To understand your legal rights and options, contact a qualified automotive defect or personal injury attorney today.