Strong opinions, weakly held

Running the numbers on Toyota safety

Robert Wright breaks down the numbers on Toyota’s safety record given all of the recent reports of uncontrolled acceleration:

My back-of-the-envelope calculations (explained in a footnote below) suggest that if you drive one of the Toyotas recalled for acceleration problems and don’t bother to comply with the recall, your chances of being involved in a fatal accident over the next two years because of the unfixed problem are a bit worse than one in a million — 2.8 in a million, to be more exact. Meanwhile, your chances of being killed in a car accident during the next two years just by virtue of being an American are one in 5,244.

This is the article I’ve been looking for since the mass hysteria about acceleration problems began. It strikes me as undoubtable that a Toyota purchased today is significantly safer than most of the cars I’ve driven over the course of my life. I used to own a 1977 Ford pickup truck that caught on fire under the hood more than once.

Update: It’s also worth mentioning that if the accelerator sticks on your cars, there are several ways to stop.


  1. Excellent article. I can’t help but speculate about Detroit-slanting press bias.

  2. I wish it were something so nefarious. Nothing sets the media’s heart afire, especially the local news, like a consumer products safety scare. Something you already own will kill you! It’s an attention getter.

  3. Would that there was a group, any group, –like the ‘press’– that might have an consensus much less agreement, about anything.

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