Maryland Driving Woes: Toyota and Honda Recalls Cause Anxiety and Anger (on Top of the Blasted Snow)

It’s been a rough winter for drivers in Baltimore, Maryland and the Mid-Atlantic region. First, we’ve been pummeled with the heaviest snowfall and fiercest winter storms on record. We’ve endured driving bans; public transit shutdowns; airport, school and government office closures; and of course, runs on supermarket staples and shovels. The Baltimore Sun reports we are up to 79 inches of snowfall this winter; that’s on par with the average height of an NBA player (Source: 2007-08 Player Survey: Height).

Emergency crews are struggling to clear Maryland highways and streets as Mother Nature keeps dumping more snow on us. The good news, according to state officials, is that Maryland drivers have heeded the warnings and stayed off the roads, resulting in no auto accident fatalities during the latest storms (as of Feb. 10). As if multiple blizzards haven’t caused enough peril and stress on Baltimore County roads and area highways, Maryland drivers are also dealing with large-scale auto safety recalls.

Earlier this year, Toyota recalled millions of vehicles with serious gas pedal problems. Initially, the problem was thought to be caused by floor mats ensnaring the accelerator pedals. (A highly publicized case in California resulted in the motor vehicle deaths of several people, when the driver of a Lexus was unable to slow down the car, which accelerated to speeds in excess of 100 mph before crashing.) Later, Toyota stated a problem may exist in the accelerator itself of certain vehicles; consumers reported the gas pedal was slow to rise when they removed their foot from the pedal.

Last week Toyota announced a recall of its popular hybrid models, including the Prius, due to concerns that the brakes might not engage properly when going over rough roads. Honda also cruised into the headlines, recalling vehicles with air bags that could deploy with too much force and rupture, causing serious personal injury to motorists or even death.

If you don’t drive a Toyota or Honda affected by the safety recalls, you may be grateful. But know this: There are hundreds of auto-related recalls that don’t ever make the news. Visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website to search a database to see if your vehicle appears on any recall lists. Whatever make or model of car, truck, or SUV you drive, drive it safely out there. Winter isn’t done with us yet.

Stern O’Malley defends storm response, warns roads will remain ‘perilous’
The Baltimore Sun Feb. 11, 2010
Runaway Toyotas (Special Section)

Honda Recalls 437,000 More Cars Over Airbags
Associated Press, Feb. 9, 2010
New details in crash that prompted Toyota recall Oct. 25, 2009
Related Web Resources

Maryland Department of Transportation — Winter Storm Information Recall Information Press Release on Recalls

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