July 13, 2010 6:40PM

U.S. DOT: “Crash Data Suggest Driver Error in Toyota Accidents”

The Wall Street Journal reports:

The U.S. Department of Transportation has analyzed dozens of data recorders from Toyota Motor Corp. vehicles involved in accidents blamed on sudden acceleration and found that at the time of the crashes, throttles were wide open and the brakes were not engaged, people familiar with the findings said.

The results suggest that some drivers who said their Toyota and Lexus vehicles surged out of control were mistakenly flooring the accelerator when they intended to jam on the brakes.

Maybe it’s rude to say “I told you so,” but yes: I told you so, as did others including Ted Frank, Megan McArdle, Michael Fumento, and Ronald Bailey.

To be sure, investigators agreed that one high‐​profile California crash, in which a family of four was killed in a loaner Lexus, was caused by floor mat “entrapment” of the accelerator pedal, a freakishly rare (and avoidable) event. But that does little to vindicate the trial‐​lawyer‐​allied “safety advocates” we heard from this spring, many of whom consistently downplayed floor mat theories because they were useless in explaining the great majority of the cases lawyers wanted to sue over.

Can we now look forward to the stream of apologetic stories from major news organizations that bought into theories about mysterious electronic defects in the cars? Or will the media add another chapter to its long record of gullibility on these matters?