Washington — The government sharply criticized Toyota Motor Corp. Wednesday for its "inaccurate and misleading" suggestion that sudden acceleration in some vehicles bound for recall may be due only to improperly fitting floor mats.
Every day I'm amazed we don't have more foul-ups like this. Pilots do an intensive pre-flight walkaround of their planes to check every major potential failure they can envision. Obviously the consequences of even a small failure can be catastrophic.
But every day most of us just plop down in our cars without a second thought, on the phone, smoking a cig, start the car, and drive away at 80 mph down the highway. I've been guilty of this, at least for short stretches of time where I've been very busy in my personal life.
Maybe shrinking the gap between pilots and drivers would be in order. Pay attention to your vehicles. In light aircraft, years ago, sometimes the fore/aft seat sliders wouldn't be fully engaged (any driver of a manual seat car knows the feeling of the seat locking into position after you've moved it). When that happens in an airplane on takeoff, the seat sliding backwards slowly can cause the pilot to accidentally pull the stick back, stall, crash, and die (I've heard it called "Cessna lock"). So is that pilot error? Mechanical error? A combination? Whose job is it to be sure the seat—or floormats—are properly aligned and secured before departure?
I'm not saying the floormats weren't a design flaw—I'm just saying that maybe Toyota shouldn't be under so much scrutiny over this. Last I heard, the incident that engendered this current batch of PR was based on a dealer or body shop having the wrong mats in a loaner.