It is difficult to prove that something never happens. But rocket scientists at NASA came close when they reported that electric systems and electromagnetic interference were not found to play a role in unintended acceleration involving vehicles produced by Toyota Motor Corp.
The results of a 10-month study announced last week by the U.S. Department of Transportation should put an end to conspiracy theories about software glitches, electronic gremlins and secret, self-incriminating Toyota engineering documents.
It is high time to move on.
Fittingly, it was Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood who announced the results. A year ago -- at the height of the media frenzy over unintended acceleration -- it was LaHood who warned U.S. consumers to park their cars until Toyota fixed them. After recalling almost 8 million vehicles in this country to replace floor mats and/or repair sticking accelerators, Toyota has done just that.
The study was undertaken by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at the urging of Congress, which held hearings to explore accusations of problems with Toyota's electronic throttle control system. The study's findings should be the final verdict.
That means plaintiffs' lawyers ought to withdraw all the lawsuits built on the notion of some mysterious systemic problem, which we now know almost certainly doesn't exist.
Likewise, safety advocates and critics ought to redirect their energies to real safety issues involving vehicle operators, such as distracted driving and what makes some people push the accelerator when they intend to press the brake pedal.
It is counterproductive to pursue mythical gremlins.