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After receiving more than 100 reports of accelerators getting stuck on driver’s side floormats, causing several deaths in high-speed crashes, Toyota is recalling more than 4 million vehicles to repair or replace their gas pedals.

The gas pedal recall is Toyota’s largest in the U.S. and the sixth-largest ever in the U.S., according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It includes 3.8 million vehicles, including the 2007-10 model year Camry, 2005-10 Toyota Avalon, 2004-09 Prius, 2005-10 Toyota Tacoma, 2007-10 Toyota Tundra, 2007-10 Lexus ES350 and 2006-10 Lexus IS250/350. NHTSA said 4.26 million vehicles would be covered, including new cars and trucks sold since September and others manufactured since the recall was announced. –AP

According to Toyota, the gas pedals have been getting stuck simply because they are too long, and not because of any sort of electrical problem. The company is developing new shorter pedals that dealers will install in customer vehicles starting next April. Beginning in January, dealers will offer to shorten the length of customers’ gas pedals by about ¾ of an inch while they wait for replacement pedals to become available.

Toyota also plans to install brake override systems in the Camry, Avalon, and Lexus ES350, IS350, and IS20, so that if the brake and accelerator are applied at the same time, the brake will win out and stop an out-of-control car. According to Toyota, these models are at the highest risk for pedals getting stuck in floor mats.

In November, Toyota issued a statement saying NHTSA had confirmed "that no defect exists in vehicles in which the driver’s floor mat is compatible with the vehicle and properly secured." But in a rare rebuke, NHTSA accused Toyota of releasing misleading information about the recall, saying removing the mats did not "correct the underlying defect." Toyota said it was not the company’s intention to mislead anyone. –AP

Whether Toyota deliberately misled us or not, life-threatening safety issues like these should never arise at all. The company needs to take more care in the development and safety testing stages to prevent their products from causing unnecessary injury and death in the first place.

If you own one of these Toyota models, please contact Toyota at 800-331-4331 or the NHTSA hot line at 888-327-4236 for more information about the recall.

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