3rd Mainland Bridge Crash and the US Toyota Recalls
Over the weekend, the news outlets were agog with headlines of an overspeeding Toyota Sienna which crashed through the railings of the Third Mainland Bridge and fell into the Lagos Lagoon. Luckily, there was just one occupant in the car at the time of the accident, and he was rescued by Fishermen and others working on the lagoon. The man has now recovered a bit and spoke to the press saying he had not been overspeeding like had been earlier reported.
Reading this reminded me of the Toyota recalls of the past few years in the United States, of various Toyota brand cars with faulty accelerators. A crash with a recorded 911 call by an occupant who later died along with three others brought the sudden unintended acceleration fault to the public and national consciousness in 2009. Several other crashes involving Toyotas kept surfacing the issue up till 2011 when massive recalls by Toyota were launched, and the CEO appearing at a hearing before the American Congress.
In the Nigerian crash, the driver, Olusola Oladimeji, in addition to insisting that he had not been speeding, also commented that his airbags did not deploy after the crash. I had always kept half an ear on the Toyota faults and recall news since we also have a Toyota, and so this news report today made me try to check around for any connections.
The Toyota Sienna was mentioned in a couple of recent recalls of which the most pertinent seems to be the November 9, 2011 Toyota recall of 550,000 vehicles including MY 2004-2005 Sienna among others. The recall concerned a steering problem caused by the misalignment of the inner and outer rings of the crankshaft pulley, which could cause a noise or the Check Engine light to illuminate; if this problem is not corrected, the power steering belt can fall off the pulley, which can cause a sudden loss of power assist.
There may be no connection at all, but I think this is something that should be looked into rather swept away amidst cries of MFM and Miracles. A lot of Nigerians buy their cars either brand new or fairly used from the States or Asia, so it's not a stretch to think that faults in those cars - which may have been recalled elsewhere - could be leading to accidents involving those vehicles. The picture above shows the car was obtained, I hope this means that the officials carry out necessary investigations and see if a recall or alert needs to be sent out to Nigerian motorists with Toyotas.
This wiki entry is very comprehensive on the 2009 - 2011 Toyota Recalls
On their website, Toyota also lists some of the brands and recalls
On Dec 26, 2012, ABC reported that Toyota reached a $1.1 Billion settlement in lawsuits over acceleration problems. "According to plaintiffs' attorney Steve Berman, the settlement is worth more than $1 billion. That would make it the largest settlement in U.S. history involving automobile defects."