Illinois Professor Stands By His Work on Unintended Acceleration in Toyota Vehicles

I wrote a few weeks ago, as a southern Illinois auto accident lawyer, about the federal study suggesting that electronic throttle systems aren’t responsible for unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles. So I was very interested to see a Feb. 23 article in the Chicago Tribune about a family that is undeterred by the report — they still believe their father’s death was caused by an electronic problem, not by driver error. Just as interestingly, the article quotes Southern Illinois University professor Dave Gilbert, an automotive technology expert, who says he stands by his earlier report that an electronic short could have caused the unintended acceleration. A second federal study expected this summer could cast more light on the subject.
Gilbert testified before Congress a year ago about a report he’d prepared on the possibility that unintended acceleration, rather than faulty floor mats or gas pedals, could be responsible for the slew of accidents. He had found that inducing an electronic short in the drive-by-wire systems in the cars could cause unintended acceleration, something he was able to reproduce in a laboratory. Gilbert told the Tribune that NASA’s own report mentions finding “tin whiskers” — small, hairlike deformations of the metal — on the pedal assemblies of the Toyota vehicles. That suggests that the federal government might have overstated its conclusions, he said. Meanwhile, Toyota has just announced yet another unintended acceleration recall of 2.17 million vehicles, which are attributed to gas pedal entrapment problems.
As a St. Louis car accident attorney, I hope safety investigators keep this in mind as they continue to look into the possibility of flaws in the electronic throttle systems. This is very important, because most cars made in the last decade use this kind of throttle. If it has serious safety problems, literally millions of vehicles could be unsafe for their own drivers and everyone who happens to be around them. Alternative interpretations of NASA’s study may also be important for people like the man in the article, who lost his 87-year-old father after an alleged unintended acceleration incident in a 2006 Corolla. Surveillance video shows the car swerving to avoid pedestrians, so the driver clearly had enough mental presence to understand and avoid the danger — making driver error more difficult to believe.


At Carey, Danis & Lowe, we represent clients who were seriously injured or lost a loved one in a car crash caused by someone else’s carelessness. That includes carelessly making and selling a product with such serious flaws that it’s unsafe to use as intended — such as a defective electronic throttle. Accidents caused by automotive product defects are rare, but they do happen, and they can kill or seriously injure drivers just like other types of auto accidents. Our Missouri product liability lawyers help clients hold manufacturers legally liable for any injuries their defective products cause, especially when they knew about the flaw but attempted to cover it up. In a lawsuit, accident victims can win the money for all of their medical costs, past and future, as well as lost income and compensation for any permanent injury or death.
Carey, Danis & Lowe offers free, confidential case evaluations, so you can tell us your story and learn more about your legal rights at no further risk. To set up a meeting, send us a message through our website or call 1-877-678-3400 today.