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Ethics Blog #5

NASA Study says Toyota Crashes were Driver Error, Not Faulty Electronics

Many point to damage done by avalanche of reports that implied Toyota was slow to act on safety defect


The U.S. Department of Transportation said its joint investigation with NASA has concluded that electronic systems in Toyota vehicles were not responsible for a series of crashes that became the focus of intense and often sharply critical news reporting.

The conclusion that the crashes were caused by driver error has prompted some to ponder the ethical implications of full-tilt coverage that critics say painted Toyota as the guilty party, reports Forbes. The allegations of sudden acceleration prompted one of the largest auto recalls in U.S. history and damaged the sales and quality reputation of the automaker.

The Tokyo-based newspaper Asahi Shimbun contends that the recent report will “do little in the short-term to erase the imagery of Toyota officials undergoing intense questioning in Washington over the acceleration problems and a response criticized as slow.”

But CNN notes that some safety advocates are not entirely buying the conclusions, saying the NASA tests requested by Congress are not conclusive because they were conducted on only nine cars.

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