Everywhere you look or turn these days, Toyota is in the news. Normally, that wouldn't be a bad thing, but the largest automobile manufacturer in the world is in hot water over what seems to be a sticky accelerator caused by improper floor mats.
The news is reporting that the gas pedal can get stuck in the wide-open throttle position due to the floor mat not being secure, which can result in a rather tragic accident. The news stations have also being doing some tests of their own by trying to slow a car down while the throttle is wide open. It's no surprise that most times they seem to be failing at the task because the brakes are fighting the engine.
Instead of trying to dramatize the problem and tossing more bad press at Toyota, why is the media not educating the public with a solution? It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that shifting the car out of gear and into neutral, then applying the brakes is a safe and easy solution. Have we gotten so dumb that the simple task of moving the gear lever is too difficult to do? I hardly think so, but the media has turned into the modern-day paparazzi, trying to find the latest way to scare and shock the public into watching its newscasts rather than providing substantial material.
The latest story I read was about a man named Koua Fong Lee, who was convicted of vehicular manslaughter three years ago. Lee said his '96 Toyota Camry accelerated on its own and couldn't stop when it struck another car, killing three people. He's now looking for a retrial in light of the Toyota floor mat recall. Why is it that any time something bad happens, more and more people are looking to place the blame on someone other than themselves? Why can't Lee accept that he wasn't under the control of his vehicle and didn't take the proper actions to avoid causing a tragic accident, despite the alleged stuck accelerator pedal.
What's next? Blaming the manufacturer because a car's headlights aren't bright enough to see in the rain at night and the "dim" lights caused a rear-end accident? It's time that we as drivers take a close look at our driving habits and improve them. The government, not the auto manufacturers, needs to step up and enforce more diligent driver tests and driver education. Cars are already incredibly safe, it's just a matter of educating people how to drive and properly operate these vehicles. If a mishap such as a floor mat sliding under an accelerator happens, it shouldn't result in death.
I worry more and more that with our inability to improve the nation's driving standards, cars will be so cluttered with driving aids they'll be no fun to drive. We may even reach a point when the heel-and-toe maneuver won't exist because depressing the brake and gas at the same time will trigger the car to automatically go into limp mode. All thanks to Lee and the countless others who don't have the knowledge to properly operate their vehicles.
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