In an effort to make their models safer while not drawing too much attention to the fact that they needed that kind of repair, Toyota has quietly fixed a potentially defective vehicle part in several newer models.
The auto manufacturer has been cited in recent years for failing to promptly address defects that led to serious car accidents caused by sudden unintended acceleration in several of their vehicle models. One factor in this safety hazard scenario that was not highly publicized by the media was the start-stop button installed in its newer models.
Toyota recently modified the start-stop buttons in vehicles just off the line. The modification will help ensure that drivers have a failsafe option to kill the engine and avoid speeding out of control if they suddenly begin to unintentionally accelerate. In newer models, motorists will be able to push the start-stop button continuously for two seconds or three times quickly in order to signal the vehicle's engine to shut off.
The primary reason for retooling the start-stop buttons is the panic response motorists tend to engage in when faced with a potential accident scenario. Research indicates that the previous length of time required to push the start-stop button in order to shut off a vehicle's engine was far longer than motorists intuitively needed when panicking in an emergency situation. Evidence also suggests that had the push time been shorter, the tragic and fatal sudden acceleration accident involving an off-duty law enforcement officer and his family could have possibly been prevented.
This critical fix was too long in coming, but is welcome now that models have been appropriately outfitted.
Source: USA Today, "Toyota modifies start-stop buttons in case of panic," Chris Woodyard, Jan. 8, 2013