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According to a recent statement by Department of Transportation secretary, Ray LaHood, Toyota was more than a little “safety deaf” when warned about the safety of its vehicles. In fact, LaHood was recently quoted as stating that it “took enormous effort” to get Toyota to issue a recall in the United States after the company was first confronted with the safety defects of some of its models. Toyota has also admitted that it acted with “an abundance of caution” when it issued the recall of 2.3 million vehicles for sticky accelerator pedals, shut down six factory lines, and halted sales of eight automobile models.

Additionally, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also had to push Toyota to respond to the safety issues involved with the faulty floor mats, which could trap accelerator pedals against the floor. Overall, the NHTSA has linked that safety problem with 5 deaths in two accidents. Overall, safety advocates argue that Toyota’s safety issues are linked to at least 19 deaths.

Toyota’s top U.S. official, Yoshibi Inaba, is set to testify at a February 10 congressional hearing. Moreover, Toyota will face a second investigation on February 25 by an investigation subcommittee headed by Representative Bart Stupak. The NHTSA has also warned that it is considering civil penalties against Toyota for its poor handling of the sticky gas pedal and faulty floor mat issues.

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