Later this week, the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee is scheduled to hear a bill which, if passed, will significantly increase the potential fines to automakers who delay automobile recalls for any reason. The bill also aims to toughen safety requirements for car manufacturers and commercial bus companies in the wake of several fatal car and bus accidents that have taken place in recent months.
After millions of recalled vehicles and several years of increased costs and bad press, Toyota executives believed that they finally had reason to celebrate with the release of a NASA study declaring that Toyota vehicles did not have electronic defects that caused sudden acceleration. Last week, however, the tables turned as Toyota announced yet another recall of more than 2 million additional vehicles.
It appears that Toyota's legal troubles will not end anytime soon. In September, just over one year after a tragic car accident took the lives of an off-duty police officer and three of his family members, Toyota settled a lawsuit with the family of the deceased. Although the details of the settlement were kept under wraps for several months, it was recently revealed that Toyota agreed to pay the family $10 million.
After several months of reports of malfunctions, car accidents, and products liability lawsuits regarding defects in Toyota vehicles, followed by several more months of a Toyota public relations campaign, it seemed that the Toyota gas pedal defect controversy was - finally - a thing of the past. However, after two people were killed and two were injured when a 2008 Toyota Camry crashed into a rock wall in Utah, officials and consumers have begun to question whether the millions of Toyota vehicle recalls actually solved the gas pedal problems.