Charge: NHTSA sitting on pro-Toyota investigation results

by Walter Olson on July 31, 2010

A new report in the WSJ quotes a retiring NHTSA official as saying higher-ups are refusing to release the results of the agency’s staff investigation into charges of Toyota sudden acceleration, because those findings are not unfavorable enough toward the automaker. I’ve got more detail in a new post at Cato at Liberty, and Ted covers the story at PoL.

Meanwhile, proponents of a sweeping expansion of federal auto safety law, one that would thrust Washington much more deeply into the operations of the automotive industry, are really in a hurry — a quick, urgent, must-do-now hurry — to pass it, even though many of its provisions have not had much airing in public debate. An editorial today in the New York Times — a newspaper that almost comically underplayed the revelations earlier this month about the NHTSA probe’s pro-Toyota results — flatly asserts that the Japanese automaker’s vehicles suffer “persistent problems of uncontrolled acceleration,” and demands that the sweeping new legislation “be passed into law without delay.” It’s almost as if they are afraid of what might happen if lawmakers pause to take a closer look.

Among the many other things the new legislation would do is greatly enhance the legal leverage of automaker or dealership employees who adopt the mantle of “whistleblowers”. But if the new revelations from a responsible career employee of NHTSA are ignored, we will have another confirmation that some types of whistleblowing are more welcome in America’s governing class than others. (& welcome Coyote, Gabriel Malor, Death by 1000 Papercuts, Mark Hemingway/D.C. Examiner (“the indispensable Overlawyered blog”), Allen McDuffee/Think Tanked readers).

{ 3 trackbacks }

Ace of Spades HQ
07.31.10 at 11:08 am
Sudden Acceleration Syndrome: Toyotas in 2010, Audis in 1980s | DBKP - Death By 1000 Papercuts - DBKP
08.01.10 at 6:31 am
Hard Starboard
08.02.10 at 12:50 am

{ 5 comments }

1 culdesachero 07.31.10 at 9:23 am

“It’s almost as if they are afraid of what might happen if lawmakers pause to take a closer look. ”
To coin an 80′s euphamism, DUH! Why wait until the full investigation plays out when you have enough unexamined facts and public will to justify a bureaucracy with sweeping powers right now.

NYT: “The number of deaths in traffic accidents dropped to an estimated 34,000 last year — the least since the 1950s. But that is still too many deaths.”
As long as that number exists, it will always be high enough to justify more government intrusion. Perhaps we do need higher fines or more accountability, but with this logic, it is as though all of the deaths were avoidable if the auto companies were seriously trying to make their cars safer, so the government must step in with ever more requirements.
Its almost as though this whole Toyota sudden acceleration whirlwind was whipped up in order to make an excuse for more laws and bureaucratic powers. At least the regulators will get rich.

2 William Nuesslein 08.01.10 at 10:21 am

Ray LaHood, a charming fellow, is dumb as a turnip. When he was told that Toyota was giving NHTSA he did not the sense to take account of the fact that complaints related to 100 million diving years of exposure. He foolishly believed that he was holding Toyota’s feet to the fire even though Toyota makes very safe cars. I believe that the demand for more laws was a result of Mr. Lahood’s incompetence.

3 mojo 08.02.10 at 3:59 pm

“All The News That Fits The Narrative”

4 GregS 08.03.10 at 10:25 am

Well, of course. Washington is dominated by very enthusiastic statists; they want to greatly expand their control over the auto industry; and the Toyota sudden acceleration issue is the crisis they can use to justify that. If the NHTSA report demonstrates that there is in fact no sudden acceleration problem with Toyota’s vehicles, then the justification for increased intervention collapses and they won’t be able to get it through. So obviously they want to bury it until after their new laws get passed. If they do that, then the basic rule of American lawmaking kicks in, that it is relatively easy to pass new laws but nearly impossible to repeal a law once passed, at which point they’ve won.

5 Gene Bell 08.10.10 at 9:41 am

Oh dear. 34.000 deaths in traffic in one year. And 92 from the past 10 years reported on NHTSA site. 92 unproofed alleged accidents, most of them reported after the jig about runaway Toyotas. NHTSA and the Congressional penal started an economic war against Japan to protect and support GM (Government Motors). What’s about all the employees in Toyota factories and at Toyota dealerships and Workshops in the US? Will they be re-employed by GM, Chryler or Ford?

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