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According to the Associated Press, Toyota has been almost universally blocking people’s access to the information stored in its vehicles’ event data recorders, which are similar in nature to the "black boxes" found on airplanes.

The AP investigation found that Toyota has been inconsistent — and sometimes even contradictory — in revealing exactly what the devices record and don’t record, including critical data about whether the brake or accelerator pedals were depressed at the time of a crash.

AP also found that Toyota:

_ Has frequently refused to provide key information sought by crash victims and survivors.

_ Uses proprietary software in its EDRs. Until this week, there was only a single laptop in the U.S. containing the software needed to read the data following a crash.

_ In some lawsuits, when pressed to provide recorder information Toyota either settled or provided printouts with the key columns blank. –AP

Regarding what data the event recorders do and do not collect, Toyota has given disturbingly contradictory statements to the press, sometimes saying they record accelerator and brake data and sometimes saying they don’t. Accelerator and brake data is available from the event data recorders of almost every other car company, including GM, Ford, Chrysler and Nissan. And almost every other car company is significantly more forthcoming with this data than Toyota is.

In a CBS poll, 49% of Americans say they think Toyota’s management is hiding something. If it’s not, why has it been secretive about all this crash data for so many years? The worst possible answer would be that Toyota knew all along that its vehicles had accelerator problems with the potential to cause unavoidable and deadly high speed crashes, and deliberately covered it up by limiting everyone’s access to the event data recorders.

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