Unintended Acceleration [UA] is almost a buzz-word in the automotive field, especially since the massive Toyota recalls following reports of unintended acceleration, accidents, and deaths. Is Tesla Motors the next target, or is there something inherently wrong with modern automobile drive-by-wire systems, such as those used in the Tesla Model S and other modern automobiles?
Having worked for Toyota and Lexus for the last decade as a Senior Technician, I can tell you that an unintended acceleration event can be particularly unnerving. I can also tell you that every single occurrence I encountered was due to driver error, more specifically due to stacking floor mats on top of each other, five deep at the worst count.
The mats slide around on top of each other, getting under the brake pedal and reducing braking effectiveness, or can block the accelerator from depressing fully or even returning, depending on how it gets stuck.
For Toyota Motor Corporation, the solution was simple, shorten the accelerator pedal, adjust the floor surface, assure that one floor mat is affixed to the retaining hooks to keep them from sliding around, and reprogram the ECU to include a Brake Override function. According to a report received by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Institute [NHTSA], a Tesla Model S driver was rolling down his driveway, when the car suddenly accelerated, hitting a curb and ending up on a 54”-high retaining wall.
This isn’t the first time that someone has blamed the Tesla Model S for an accident, including a restaurant incident about six months ago. [By the way, NASA, the National Aeronautic and Space Administration itself, found that there was no vehicular or electronic cause for Toyota’s unintended acceleration disputes.]
I don’t know, I’ve seen the Tesla Model S buyer’s profile, and frivolous lawsuits don’t seem to fit in. On the other hand, driver error afflicts everyone from time to time. It’s much easier to blame the machine, I guess. Sorry, I’m calling balderdash on this one.