89 deaths linked to Toyota complaints


Afp May 26, 2010

NEW YORK: Eighty-nine deaths have been linked to public complaints of unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles, the US government said on Tuesday.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that as of May 20, it had received complaints covering a total of 71 fatal incidents that allegedly involved unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles. "These reports covering incidents dating back to 2000 include 89 fatalities and 57 injuries," a spokeswoman for the agency told AFP.

From 2000 to mid-May, NHTSA received more than 6,200 complaints concerning unintended acceleration involving Toyota vehicles. The complaints have not been verified by the agency.

In February, Toyota vehicles were linked to 34 deaths by consumers filing complaints with the US government over unexpected acceleration. Toyota has pulled around 10 million vehicles worldwide since late last year for safety issues and has paid a record 16.4-million-dollar fine to settle claims it hid gas pedal defects blamed for more than 50 US deaths.

The beleaguered auto giant also faces a host of lawsuits over "unintended acceleration" issues that prompted the majority of the recalls. Toyota's top executives have repeatedly denied in public that the sudden, deadly surges in speed stemmed from flaws in the electronic systems that govern acceleration and braking in modern vehicles.

Instead, the firm has blamed jammed floor mats or "sticky" pedals, or driver error -- and vowed two months ago that it would get to the bottom of charges that electronic flaws were at issue.

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