Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Toyota, The Auto Show and The Perception of Risk

The fallout from Toyota's recall for sticky gas pedals may change the landscape of the Auto industry, perhaps in the same way that Chrysler and GM fell from grace. This is not your mother's America.

The Los Angeles Times counted 19 deaths since 1999 caused by sudden acceleration.. Congress has called for hearings and Toyota sales have plunged to their lowest level in 11 years.

The rage directed at Toyota is understandable, being in a vehicle speeding out of control must indeed feel like being on a plane going down. It's that fear of no control that drives the FAA and the NTSB to set the goal of 0 commercial airline deaths and in some years that goal is achieved.

But I have to wonder. Where is the outrage for the 37,000 traffic deaths every year that plague the nation? Equivalent to a 767 going down every week. Or the 2500 deaths from distracted driving alone?

It's not at the Auto Show, where the Internet on Dashboard is being showcased on luxury cars. I would like to see the Congressional Hearings on that topic. Who would you subpoena? AT&T? Tom Tom? Google? John Q. Multitasker?

Perhaps Ralph Nader could take back his legacy by once again answering the call for automobile safety. Arguing for safer roads, deliberate enforcement, protecting vulnerable road users and keeping high tech gadgets off the dashboard.