Embedded Expert: No Pedal Misapplication in Toyota Case
During the trial, Barr told defense attorneys that dynamometer tests had shown that Toyota's built-in failsafes had "gaps" in them. Moreover, he said, skid marks at the accident scene were not compatible with pedal misapplication, pedal entrapment was not an issue, and the vehicle had been inspected a dozen times for mechanical problems, such as throttle blockages. As a result, he concluded that it was more likely than not that a software malfunction had caused the throttle problem
When a Toyota defense attorney suggested that the accident could be explained by a simple pedal misapplication, Barr responded, "No, it cannot," according to court transcripts.
After a number of unintended acceleration cases came to light in the media during the past three years, the National Highway Traffic Administration stepped in and proposed a standard for a “brake-throttle override” system that would shut down the throttle in rare cases of unintended acceleration.
Manufacturers enthusiastically supported the creation of a standard. Toyota did not have such a system on the 2005 Camry in the Oklahoma case, however.
Jurors in the case awarded $1.5 million to the driver and $1.5 million to the family of the passenger who died in the crash. A subsequent private settlement was reached to head off further punitive damages.
During the trial, Barr argued that Toyota could have easily saved itself all its troubles by implementing a brake-throttle override system.
“It would have been very simple…” Barr said in testimony. “Toyota could have done this in 2002 without any extra cost to the vehicle.”