Monday, August 2, 2010

Michael Fumento Article - Mirrors Carquestions Feb Video - Toyota Recall - CBS, NBC, ABC, AP... statistics and their failure to find proof.


Michael Fumento
Forbes Asia Magazine

The jig seems to be up on the runaway-Toyota scare. Mounting evidence indicates that those Toyotas truly accelerating suddenly can probably be explained by sliding floor mats (since fixed) and drivers hitting the gas instead of the brake. That is, the media have been chasing a will-o'-the-wisp for the better part of a year, whipping U.S. car buyers and Congress into a frenzy.

Where are Woodward and Bernstein when you need them? Shouldn't the accounts of alleged unintended acceleration deaths have been subjected to a little checking?

Remember the tale of the runaway Prius on a freeway near San Diego? In in March I observed that much of what the driver told reporters was absurd. He insisted he was "afraid" to try to shift into neutral because he needed both hands on the steering wheel; nobody asked about that cellphone he'd been holding while driving.

Likewise, the media pack is so focused on the number of those deaths supposedly from sudden unintended acceleration, now put at 93 from 75 crashes, that it can't be bothered to properly investigate them--or indeed even look at them. Otherwise reporters could have told you what I found: that most of the claims are spurious, even to the point that some of the accidents never even occurred.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration uses the term "allegedly" in listing the number of deaths possibly related to unintended acceleration. Yet too many reporters ignore that caveat. Thus, a U.S. News & World Report blog-post headline proclaimed: "NHTSA: 89 Deaths Caused by Unintended Acceleration in Toyota Vehicles." The Los Angeles Times stated in a headline that sudden acceleration "led to" the deaths. A New York Post headline early on declared that faulty Toyotas "have killed" 52 people. A CBS News Web headline (over an Associated Press story) similarly said the acceleration car fault "has killed" 89. (USA Today has been more careful in emphasizing the tenuous connections.)

The NHTSA "complaint database," available on its website, amounts to a motley collection of anecdotes, many of them absurd. Anybody can enter anything. An entry filed by someone named Damnable Liar claimed his car accelerated to the moon because of a child seat problem. That was mine.

Many "complaints" are merely comments, and since NHTSA has no "sudden acceleration" category but rather uses "speed control," the sudden-acceleration claims are lumped in with entries regarding vehicle sluggishness. But in the media conversion process they all become runaway Toyotas.

After the frenzy began, seven entries comprising ten deaths, originally blamed on other aspects of the cars, were refiled as unintended acceleration. Many simply deduce that since investigators found no cause other than driver error, then the accelerator must be responsible. Or they make the illogical deduction that since the brakes weren't applied, it was sudden acceleration.

One entry concerns Joseph Mele, who court records say last August crashed into a guard rail at over 100mph while driving a Toyota Scion. His best friend was trapped and burned alive. Witnesses told authorities he'd been smoking pot and was plastered, and a police officer stated he smelled strongly of booze. He's awaiting trial, charged with, among other crimes, vehicular homicide while driving under the influence of alcohol (something the Los Angeles Times, a Pulitzer Prize finalist for its Toyota coverage, failed to mention in a February story).

His mother nonetheless entered a NHTSA complaint regarding Toyota. And then she entered 7 other Scion accidents under "speed control" that she found online, totaling 12 deaths. She told me "police quotes" indicated they were unintended acceleration. How many of those 7 accidents NHTSA includes in the 93 isn't clear, and the agency won't say. But the fact that at least 22 deaths come from news reports proves that the 93 total includes some of them.

All of which helps explain why, of the alleged 93 deaths, NHTSA has attributed only 5 to an acceleration defect. It doesn't explain why huge media outlets with teams assigned specifically to cover Toyota somehow missed all this.

Toyota Recall - CBS, NBC, ABC, AP... statistics and their failure to fin...

Monday, July 19, 2010

Just-auto Toyota "plant" story just as fake as WSJ?

The July 15 quote from Just-auto is as follows;

"That story was planted by Toyota," an NHTSA spokeswoman told just-auto. "Toyota is the source - yes we know that for definite.

"It is [the] Toyota PR machine. We knew they were going to put it out."

My questions are; 
  1. If you were writing for a living would you have missed the closed quotation mark after definite?
  2. Would you have included an additional space between the first part of the quote and the second part as Just-auto did?
  3. What reporter worth their salt wouldn't have asked the question "how did you know they were going to put it out?"
If I was playing reporter (as I am now) I would have asked a lot of additional questions such as "how do you know it for definite?" "did the WSJ tell you?" "did someone at Toyota?" "you claim to know in advance that they were going to put this story out, didn't you contact them or Congress and tell them they may be breaking the law?" "aren't there rules about congressional investigations?" "it was your information that was going to be leaked to the WSJ surely an administrator in NHTSA would want to contact Toyota to caution them at the very least, wasn't that done?"

Just-auto must have asked some of these questions, too bad they didn't bother to include the response (or lack there of) in their article. Maybe it would have made their source look bad?

As is often the case I find, what is not in a news story is more interesting than what is.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

GM Recall 1.5 million and counting - June 4/10 -

The shocking details left out of the main stream news - 41 confirmed cases of vehicle fires while car was parked and turned off! 13 of the 41 cases had the heated washer fluid option the rest did not! NHTSA has been investigating this since before February 4, 2008!

Monday, May 3, 2010

YouTube - carquestions's Channel

YouTube - carquestions's Channel: "Outrageous - Dodge Calibers made after March 06 are being investigated by NHTSA for a sticky pedal. Chrysler admits its a mechanical problem involving 161,000. and blames it on a parts supplier CTS. Where is the recall? Where is the 'stop selling orders' Where are the plant closures? - Where is the level playing field? Where is Ray LaHood?"

Friday, April 23, 2010

Edmunds or Sero removes posts of April 22

After a little back and forth between me, Sam and one of his fans, Edmund's removed all our posts including the two above and stated the following;
Hi Mark,
Some posts have been removed for they violated our member agreement. Your post has been removed too, since it's off-topic. :-)
You can check out the rules by clicking on the Member Agreement link at the bottom of any forum page.
Steve, Host I have sent a reply asking if it was due to a complaint or something we said. We were simply discussing SUA and there wasn't any foul language or comments. My guess is Sam Sero put in a complaint and would rather not be caught. The last thing I said to him was that he should enter the Edmund's contest since it was tailor made for a guy that has been pushing EMI theories for the past twenty years and that if he didn't enter the contest it would prove he doesn't believe in his own theories or at the very least is afraid of having them scrutinized by a panel of independent experts outside of a courtroom. - we'll see if there is a reply from Edmund's.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Following Edmund's contest on SUA

The following post is by Sam Sero - famous for his SUA theories about electrical malfunctions causing SUA - he posted this on Edmund's under the unintended acceleration contest postings; "I have been investigating SA or UA incidents for over twenty years and I am certain that the actual cause of these events is electromagnetic interference. EMI is something that has plagued not only the auto industry but aircraft, cranes, wheelchairs, pacemakers and comp[uters to name a few. I have compiled an extensive history of documents that trace the advent of the condition to the fuel injected engine with electronic cruise control. Toyota's problem is not unique. The control of the throttle from an ECM is equivalent to what Ford tried in its 1989 and 1990 integrated engine and cruise control systems and experienced a 600% increase in the rate of sudden accleration events in the models it placed this control in. For more info go to" My Reply; Mr. Sero - Given the fact that in the history of building automobiles no one (including NHTSA, Toyota etc.) has ever documented a single vehicle that would accelerate out of control by itself due to an electrical system malfunction please cite one case or vehicle where investigators found a real world example of a car that had a defective electrical part that caused it to accelerate out of control by itself. No theories please, just one single real world example that is verifiable. After all your site is Forensic Facts - not Forensic Theories.