Although the investigation is still in its preliminary stages, the initial results presented to congress by a team of NASA and NHTSA (National Highway Transportation Safety Board) experts seem to validate Toyota's contention that there is no electronics-related issue involving unintended accelerator in its vehicles.
This early study, which examined "black box" data from 58 reported incidents of allegedly uncommanded acceleration, found that in 35 of those cases, the driver had never actually applied the brakes prior to the crash and in 14 more there was only partial application. Information from nine other electronic data recorders showed that the brakes on those vehicles had only been engaged in the final moments before impact. Although it's still far too early to draw any final conclusions, the results leave little doubt that driver error and pedal misapplication are likely to figure rather prominently when it comes to assessing ultimate blame for what really caused a number of these instances to occur.
To date, Toyota has admitted that improperly installed floormats and "sticky" accelerator pedals can contribute to unintended acceleration---and has already recalled nearly eight million Toyota and Lexus models to address those issues. While NHTSA plans to continue exploring whether there may be some form of as-yet-undiscovered potential electrical or software problems in these vehicles, Toyota's is standing by its earlier statement noting that: "Having conducted more than 4,000 on-site vehicle inspections, in no case have we found electronic throttle controls to be a cause of unintended acceleration." Results of the completed study are due in the fall.