“The deadly crash of a Toyota Camry in western Utah is being blamed on a sticky gas pedal,” begins an Associate Press article dated November 15, 2010. The report then continues with the statement that the suspected failure of the car’s accelerator to rise when the driver took his foot off the pedal is ‘the same problem that led the world’s largest automaker to recall the car for repairs early this year.”

The recent car crash involved a 2008 Toyota sedan, and both the driver and a passenger lost their lives when the vehicle smashed into a rock wall along a highway on November 5. The car was one of the 3.8 million Avalon, Camry, Lexus, Prius, Tacoma and Tundra models produced and sold between 2004 and 2010 that were subject to an accelerator-related recall issued in September 2009. Those recalls to refit the cars and trucks with floor mats and update pedal mechanisms came in the wake of a fiery crash near San Diego in August 2009, when a California (CA) Highway Patrol officer and three family members died after their Lexus accelerated uncontrollably.

Toyota has already settled at least one sudden acceleration lawsuit, and the automaker is facing hundreds of other suits. One case likely to receive close attention involves a Minnesota (MN) man who was recently released from prison. He had been convicted of vehicular manslaughter despite claiming at trial that his Toyota sped up while he did not have his foot on the gas pedal and crashed into another car.

The exact cause of the sudden acceleration problem in Toyota and Lexus vehicles has not been determined, and the car maker’s efforts to resolve the issue may not be as effective as everyone hoped. Toyota must continue addressing the problem until a permanent solution is found. At the same time, the company must be willing — or, when necessary, compelled in court — to compensate drivers, passengers, and those people’s families when defective gas pedals cause sudden acceleration and injuries or deaths.