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YouTube video of horrific Camry crash is sponsored by ... Toyota

April 20, 2012|By Jerry Hirsch
  • Toyota ad appears as Camry hits supermarket doors in this video.
Toyota ad appears as Camry hits supermarket doors in this video. (Florida Highway Patrol )

In one of the more bizarre instances of auto advertising, a YouTube video that shows an elderly Florida woman crashing her 2004 Toyota Camry through a Publix supermarket, injuring 10 people, is sponsored by Toyota.

The video of Saturday's incident was posted earlier this week by Russia Today.  As the Camry shatters the glass door and plows into a baby carriage and shoppers, an advertisement pops up saying, “The following presentation is brought to you by: Toyota moving forward”  with the distinctive Toyota logo inserted into the advertisement.

The advertisement then morphs into a pitch for Toyota’s new Prius c hybrid car.

It is an unfortunate case of how automated placement systems link brand advertising with content about the respective brand.  The Florida Highway Patrol released the video and it has been posted by many news websites.

The cause of the crash is under investigation, although the initial reports said the driver, 76-year-old Thelma Wagenhoffer of Palm Coast, hit the gas pedal instead of the brakes. According to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study, women, especially elderly women, are more likely than men to mistake the gas pedal for the brakes.

The Daytona Beach News-Journal reported that Wagenhoffer was charged Tuesday with careless driving.  “It's a miracle no one got killed," Florida Highway Patrol Capt. Jerry Crews said.

The News-Journal said 10 Palm Coast residents were injured. The baby suffered only a bump on the head, the paper reported.

Earlier this month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposed that automakers include a brake-throttle override system in all their passenger cars and light trucks to help drivers regain control when a vehicle accelerates suddenly.

The move came after the fiery 2009 Lexus crash triggered a flood of complaints about sudden acceleration in Toyota Motor Corp. vehicles. Lexus is a Toyota brand. That crash led to a recall of millions of Toyota and Lexus vehicles to fix problems with floor mats that were thought to be behind the Lexus crash. Toyota also issued recalls to fix sticking gas pedals.

But some analysts believe that many of these unexpected acceleration incidents are a result of the driver hitting the wrong pedal, as suspected in this Florida crash and a brake-override system would not prevent such an accident.

Nonetheless, Toyota has made a brake-override system standard on its vehicles, and most other automakers offer such a system on many of their vehicles or are adding it.


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