Saturday, April 3, 2010

"Toyota hysteria"?

On March 9th, the Los Angeles Times published an OpEd piece that caught my eye. It was called "Toyota hysteria."

It's been almost a month since the article appeared, and some of the hoopla has subsided. Still, I think the article is relevant to life (and the Toyota "problem.")

I own and drive a Toyota. I've owned a Fiat, several Volkwagens (bugs and buses), a Vega, a Ford Aspire, a Jeep, a Chevy Cavalier, and a Honda CRV. I like my Toyota. It's the first new car I've ever owned.

My Corolla is not one of the many that were recalled, but all the news made me a bit worried.

I try not to over-react to things. I can recall my mom saying, "There are two sides to every story." I still try to get both sides before jumping to a conclusion.

As a result, I've learned to look a bit deeper into current affairs before I form an opinion. Knee-jerk reactions are the norm. Sometimes I prefer not being normal.

Some quotes from the Op-Ed piece I especially liked were:

1) "But what I am worried about, with the current avalanche of unintended-acceleration complaints against the company and the congressional hearings, is the hysteria promoted by sensationalist headlines and pompous government officials."

2) "To err is human; to blame errors on external factors is even more so."

3) ""Nobody wants to minimize any deaths Toyota defects may have caused," says Russ Rader of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. "But vehicle defects are just a tiny, tiny part of what leads to crashes.""

4) "So why the emphasis on mechanical defects above all else? Evans says it began with Ralph Nader and his 1965 book, "Unsafe at Any Speed." Today it's perpetuated by trial lawyers seeking the deepest pockets and a media that know it's sexier to crusade against corporations than emphasize individual responsibility."

And so we return again to the less sexy problem of individual responsibility. The author acknowledges Toyota's contribution to the current tragedy, but he also puts it into a larger perspective. It's easier to blame others, than to accept personal blame. It's easier to point a finger than to say, "My bad. Please forgive me."

And what are the author's qualifications for speaking to the Toyota hysteria:

1) He was involved in a serious crash in 1992 that ended in an out-of-court settlement with Toyota.

2) His wife, who was seriously injured in that crash, owns and drives a Toyota.

3) The author, Michael Fumento, "is director of the nonprofit Independent Journalism Project, where he specializes in health and safety issues."

The antidote to hysteria just might be good information from a reliable source.

Perhaps "truth" exists in both sides of a story. Hmmm... Something to think about.


  1. I agree that hysteria does kick in way too quickly when an issue arises. Good post Don!

    Happy Easter to you and your family!!!

  2. Ah, I wish I could say I have not had Toyota problems.. there are many things I love about my 07 Camry but the brakes have failed in the snow numerous times (the identical problem to the Prius) but I'm told that my car is only recalled for the accelerator and there is nothing I can do. Attempts to register a complaint have been futile and while I have enjoyed my previous Toyotas... I am so disappointed in the safety of this one that I plan to trade it in for something else.
    Blessings and thanks for all your wonderful posts!

  3. @Kringle: Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I enjoyed reading your profile, especially your extensive interest list. Well done. (Sorry about your Camry problems.)

  4. @September: Oops. I responded out of order! ;-)

    I agree that hysteria is too ready a response. Thanks for the Easter greetings: back at ya!

    How's the classroom problem/teacher problem from earlier in the year... resolutions? resignations? reality? (Crisis averted?)

  5. The world is drugged and hooked on anger and hysteria.

  6. @Dennis: And the church can function as a half-way house or clinic to break the addiction. ;-)

  7. I know, and that is part of the work I do, and a messy business that is; the treatment of what is essentially a spiritual addiction (and that happens in a lot of areas).