WASHINGTON (AFP) – US Transportation Department tests of "dozens" of data recorders from Toyota vehicles involved in accidents blamed on sudden acceleration found many drivers mistakenly hit the gas pedal instead of the brake, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.
A Lexus SUV is seen traveling on a highway in Sunrise, Florida. (AFP file)
"The early results suggest that some drivers who said their Toyotas and Lexuses surged out of control were mistakenly flooring the accelerator when they intended to jam on the brakes," the report said.
Yet the findings, part of a broad investigation into Toyota's recalls, "don't exonerate the car maker from two known issues blamed for sudden acceleration in its vehicles: 'sticky' accelerator pedals that don't return to idle and floor mats that can trap accelerators to the floor,'" the report added.
The data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration included a sampling of "reports in which a driver of a Toyota vehicle said the brakes were depressed but failed to stop the car from accelerating and ultimately crashing," the newspaper noted.
The Transportation Department however, "found that throttles were wide open and brakes not engaged on Toyotas involved in accidents blamed on sudden acceleration," the report said, citing unnamed sources.
Toyota has pulled around 10 million vehicles worldwide since late last year, mostly due to acceleration problems.
The company is looking to improve its recall process following heavy criticism of the way it handled safety issues in the United States blamed for more than 80 deaths.
Toyota president Akio Toyoda in June apologized to shareholders for the recall crisis.
In Japan, Toyota spokesman Paul Nolasco said Wednesday: "We haven't received any official information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration yet, so I cannot comment."
He added: "We are still giving them information about our own evaluations. We are still working for solutions on issues such as sticking accelerator pedals and pedals trapped in the mat. In no case have we found electronic throttles control to be the cause of unexpected acceleration."