On Aug. 28, 2009, a 2009 Lexus ES 350 was involved in a devastatingly fatal crash in Santee, California after it raced over an embankment and caught fire following sudden unintended acceleration (SUA).
All four passengers – a family of four – were killed as a result of this accident. The deceased include parents Mark and Cleofe Saylor, both 45, their daughter Mahala, 13, and the brother-in-law Chris Lastrella, 38.
This recent tragedy has sparked new interest in the potentially defective floor mats Toyota installs in many of its popular auto lines.
Past Reports of SUA Accidents & Defective Floor Mats
Long before the Santee SUA accident, Toyota had come under suspicion of installing defective, dangerous floor mats in many of its vehicles.
In fact, between 2002 and 2006, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducted numerous investigations to detect the incidence of sudden unintended acceleration and Toyota’s use of these floor mats. Many of these investigations conflicted, as most were either inconclusive or found that floor mat entrapment was causing SUA accidents.
Following these probes, in 2007, NHTSA finished an Engineering Analysis regarding SUA accidents in Toyota vehicles. The investigations found that about 55,000 2002 to 2008 Lexus ES350 and Toyota Camry cars had experienced driving difficulties – including serious accidents – as a result of SUA caused by floor mat entrapment.
As a result of these investigations and mounting accident reports, in September 2008, Toyota issued a voluntary nationwide recall of its weather mats. In the national press release, Toyota claimed that it was going replace these mats with a new, more safely designed mat that would dramatically reduce the possibility of SUA.
2009 Toyota Floor Mat Warnings
Unfortunately, the 2008 Toyota recall was not effective in reducing the incidence of SUA, as proven by the recent SUA crash in Santee.
The severity of this latest SUA accident has led both Toyota and the NHTSA to issue an urgent consumer safety alert to anyone who owns the following vehicles:
- 2005 to 2010 Avalon
- 2007 to 2010 Camry
- 2007 to 2010 Lexus US250 and IS350
- 2006 to 2010 Lexus ES350
- 2004 to 2010 Prius
- 2005 to 2010 Tacoma
- 2007 to 2010 Tundra
Owners of any of these vehicles are instructed to:
- Immediately remove the driver’s floor mat
- NOT replace the removed floor mat with anything else
- Go to their nearest dealer to get the mat secured (Toyota has instructed its affiliates to bind the mats down with plastic zip ties)
Have you or a loved one been injured as a result of an SUA accident in a Toyota vehicle? If so, contact the Killino Firm to speak with an experienced product’s liability attorney about your individual circumstances.