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Toyota: Some crashes may have been driver's fault

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TEXT OF INTERVIEW

Bill Radke: Toyota now says at least some of those unintended acceleration crashes may have been the driver's fault. It was just a couple of months ago Toyota recalled about 8 million vehicles because of the malfunctions. Alisa Roth covers the auto industry for Marketplace and she joins us live. Good morning.

Alisa Roth: Good morning.

Radke: Toyota says the crashes were the driver's fault. How did it come to that conclusion?

Roth: Well Toyota says that in most of the cases they've looked at carefully, the driver was actually flooring the accelerator rather than hitting the brakes. The government has also been looking into the claims and it hasn't officially released results yet. But the Wall Street Journal's reporting that federal investigators are coming up with similar findings.

Radke: So what are we saying Alisa, the charges agsinst Toyota were a big mistake? They're off the hook now?

Roth: You know unfortunately for Toyota, probably not. First of all, these results are all from investigations of relatively recent crashes. It's harder to get solid data on ones that happened a longer time ago. The other thing is that even Toyota agrees that it did have some problems with faulty accelerator pedals. These are pedals that didn't come back up as fast as they should. And remember there were also those floor mats that were getting stuck under pedals.

Radke: Right, right. So what do you think? Will these findings restore Toyota's reputation?

Roth: I think it'll depend in part what the rest of the investigations turn up, and then it's going to depend on how the company handles it. Certainly, Toyota was criticized very harshly for its initial handling of the crisis, and I think in part, the question will be how it deals with this next round.

Radke: OK, Alisa Roth covers the auto industry for us. Alisa, thank you.

Roth: You're welcome.

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