Savings over safety at what cost?

Not too long ago, most people equated the Toyota brand with safety and dependability.

Now, everything the car manufacturing giant seemed to stand for is in question.

On Nov. 2, Toyota released a statement recalling 4.2 million various Toyota and Lexus models because of a problem owners had the potential to encounter in which the driver’s floor mat could potentially wedge the accelerator pedal down all the way.

Then on Jan. 21, Toyota issued a separate recall for another 2.3 million vehicles to fix a design problem that caused accelerator pedals to stick. The Camry, Avalon, Prius, Tacoma, Tundra, ES350, IS 250, IS 350, RAV4, Corolla, Matrix, Highlander and Sequoia models from 2010 (and some from as far back as 2004) were all affected by the recall.

Just when it looked as though things couldn’t get worse for Toyota, CNN’s Peter Valdes-Dapena reported Thursday that the company had allegedly known “for some time” about brake problems in its eco-friendly line of 2010 Prius cars that have led to four accidents thus far, but decided to not alert Prius owners.

Valdes-Dapena said that Toyota only made the public aware of the issue after the Japanese government initiated an investigation. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also said Thursday that it would begin investigating claims about Prius brake issues in America.

It’s deplorable that any company would cover up potential safety issues with its products from its customers, but car safety is something that affects everyone. This isn’t a dangerous crib or a laptop with an inefficient battery; it’s a multi-ton piece of machinery that when not working properly can lead to more than just a bad day for one person.

Toyota needs to realize that its priority should be its customers and not its shareholders.

Any company unable to understand that saving lives is more important than saving money doesn’t belong in business.

Alan Dennis is a communication senior and may be reached at [email protected]

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