March 14, 2010 |
On a summer day in 1911, Donald MacPherson was driving his Buick runabout to Sarasota Springs, N.Y., when the wooden spokes snapped on a rear wheel, flipping the open car and trapping him under the rear axle. MacPherson suffered a badly lacerated eye and a broken wrist so painful he couldn't grip the tools he needed to ply his craft as a stone cutter. He sued Buick Motor Co., alleging negligence in failing to ensure the wheel was roadworthy. In what would become a landmark ruling in product liability law, the New York Court of Appeals in 1916 awarded MacPherson $5,025 in compensation -- about $115,000 in today's dollars -- and established the automaker's "duty of care" to ensure customers are sold a safe product.
March 11, 2010 |
Federal inspection of the runaway Toyota Prius that took a wild ride on a San Diego County freeway was delayed several hours Wednesday when a California congressman insisted that someone from his office witness the examination. A team of inspectors from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was already at Toyota of El Cajon examining the car -- which reportedly had a stuck accelerator, causing it to speed for half an hour before the driver got it stopped -- when a staffer from the office of Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista)
February 28, 2010 |
One car barreled through a stop sign, struck a tree and landed upside down in a Texas lake, drowning four people. Another tore across an Indiana street and crashed into a jewelry store. A third raced at an estimated 100 mph on a San Bernardino County street before striking a phone pole, killing the owner of a sushi restaurant. At least 56 people have died in U.S. traffic accidents in which sudden unintended acceleration of Toyota Motor Corp. vehicles has been alleged, according to a Times review of public records and interviews with authorities.
February 18, 2010 |
When some of the world's best-known companies faced disputes over secondhand smoke, toxic waste in the jungle and asbestos, they all turned to the same source for a staunch defense: Exponent Inc. Now that same engineering and consulting firm has been hired by Toyota Motor Corp. as it seeks to fend off claims that sudden acceleration in its vehicles could be caused by problems in its electronic throttle systems. A 56-page report that Menlo Park, Calif.-based Exponent sent to Congress on Feb. 9 found that the system behaved as intended and that Exponent was "unable to induce . . . unintended acceleration or behavior that might be a precursor to such an event."
February 10, 2010 |
In mid-2008 when the NHRA indefinitely shortened its top-fuel and funny car races for safety reasons, it raised a question: Should there be record speeds and times kept for that distance? The National Hot Rod Assn. initially decided no. But starting last September, the sanctioning body started allowing records for the shorter distance, partly because the records earn their drivers championship bonus points in the sport's top-level Full Throttle Series. The distance for NHRA drag racing always had been one-quarter mile, or 1,320 feet.
February 5, 2010 |
And now, the Lexus hybrid. Toyota Motor Corp.'s investigation into brake problems with its Prius hybrid bled over to the Prius' upscale cousin, the Lexus HS 250h hybrid, on Thursday. The mechanical parts that make up the brake system in the Lexus model are identical to those in Toyota's 2010 Prius, but the two gas-electric hybrid cars use different software systems to control the way the brakes are used, said Brian Lyons, a Toyota spokesman. Still, he said, the Lexus is now part of Toyota's investigation.