Sen. Schumer to Toyota: Cooperate with Investigators of New York Prius Accident

During congressional testimony Thursday, former NHTSA head Joan Claybrook compared Toyota's record on black box data to that of other car companies. "Toyota, unlike U.S. manufacturers, has made it almost impossible to secure black box information," said Claybrook, testifying at a House Commerce Committee hearing. "It has not made available any downloading systems, saying the one it had in the U.S. was a prototype."

Said Claybrook, "To the best of my knowledge, Toyota has not made available to NHTSA any black box information about its vehicles involved in sudden acceleration crashes."

Toyota has attributed the difficulty to differences in its system of data collection. Toyota uses proprietary software, and the black boxes in Toyotas could previously only be read in Japan or at Toyota's U.S. headquarters in California. Toyota has pledged to increase greatly the number of data readers available in the United States. Three readers have been delivered to NHTSA, and 150 will be distributed for commercial use before the end of next month.

The Harrison incident occurred Tuesday morning as the 56-year-old driver had just turned out of a long and winding driveway. Though she had not previously experienced problems with sudden acceleration in the car, because of news reports she was taking the car to a local Toyota dealership to be checked.

"She said the car accelerated and continued to accelerate," Marraccini told ABC News. "She said she tried to brake." According to Capt. Marraccini, the driver kept hitting the brakes, but the car wouldn't stop. The vehicle traveled about 150 feet before the driver lost control, crossed two lanes and hit a stone wall. The woman suffered an injury to her knee.

Marraccini said his department checked to see if the floor mat might have caused the accident. "From our investigation, it doesn't appear the floor mat was the cause," he said. The floor mat was secured to the car floor with the factory-issued hook and also tied to the seat base with a plastic tie. Marraccini said he believed it had been taken to a Toyota dealership to be serviced.

Like the 2008 Prius, the 2005 Prius is covered by the floor mat recall, but not the gas pedal recall.

At his Tuesday press conference, Sen. Schumer also announced a bill that he said would protect consumers from buying products that are under recall or are known to the seller to be dangerous. "This is about basic fairness," said Schumer. "If a person goes out to buy a product, they have the right to know all the facts. If a product is being recalled, then the information should be readily available for consumers as well, and that's what I'm going to fight to make happen."

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