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Toyota's Runaway Car Problem Does A Runaway

US National Highway Safety Administration Says Sudden Unintended Acceleration Problem "Not Closed"

1 min read
Toyota's Runaway Car Problem Does A Runaway

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) sent a strong - but also highly ambiguous - message to Toyota yesterday.

In a story reported nationally on ABC World News, the NHTSA said that Toyota's recall of 3.8 million floor mats which can pose a danger of creating a "runaway car" (see my blog posts here and here) did not close the issue:

"This matter is not closed until Toyota has effectively addressed the vehicle defect by providing a suitable remedy.”

The NHTSA also said, according to the report, that it was discussing “what the appropriate vehicle remedy or remedies will be."

The NHSTA did not state what the "vehicle defect" is or the potential remedies, although many owners of Toyota vehicles experiencing sudden unintended acceleration (SUA) speculate that there is something wrong with the software and or electronics that involve their car's throttle control. Some owners involved in SUA accidents have brought lawsuits against Toyota blaming the underlying cause of the accidents on an unspecified computer error; the NHTSA statement yesterday will no doubt spur more lawsuits.

Toyota has vehemently denied software or electronics is the cause (see a video by Toyota Motor Sales Senior Vice President Bob Daly on the subject here), pointing out that the NHTSA has conducted six investigations of SUA and has never found a software or electronic cause.

For Toyota's part, it had better be correct that software or electronics are not involved in the SUA some of its car owners' have experienced. If it turns out to be the case, expect Toyota to suffer a public backlash significantly worse than Ford did during its Firestone tire fiasco.

ABC News has “helpfully” posted a video on how to stop a runaway car here.

Don’t expect this controversy to die anytime soon.

The Conversation (0)

Why Functional Programming Should Be the Future of Software Development

It’s hard to learn, but your code will produce fewer nasty surprises

11 min read
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A plate of spaghetti made from code
Shira Inbar
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You’d expectthe longest and most costly phase in the lifecycle of a software product to be the initial development of the system, when all those great features are first imagined and then created. In fact, the hardest part comes later, during the maintenance phase. That’s when programmers pay the price for the shortcuts they took during development.

So why did they take shortcuts? Maybe they didn’t realize that they were cutting any corners. Only when their code was deployed and exercised by a lot of users did its hidden flaws come to light. And maybe the developers were rushed. Time-to-market pressures would almost guarantee that their software will contain more bugs than it would otherwise.

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