Monday, January 28, 2013

3rd Mainland Bridge Crash and the US Toyota Recalls

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Over the weekend, the news outlets were agog with headlines of an overspeeding Toyota Sienna which crashed through the railings of the Third Mainland Bridge and fell into the Lagos Lagoon. Luckily, there was just one occupant in the car at the time of the accident, and he was rescued by Fishermen and others working on the lagoon. The man has now recovered a bit and spoke to the press saying he had not been overspeeding like had been earlier reported.

Reading this reminded me of the Toyota recalls of the past few years in the United States, of various Toyota brand cars with faulty accelerators. A crash with a recorded 911 call by an occupant who later died along with three others brought the sudden unintended acceleration fault to the public and national consciousness in 2009. Several other crashes involving Toyotas kept surfacing the issue up till 2011 when massive recalls by Toyota were launched, and the CEO appearing at a hearing before the American Congress.

In the Nigerian crash, the driver, Olusola Oladimeji, in addition to insisting that he had not been speeding, also commented that his airbags did not deploy after the crash. I had always kept half an ear on the Toyota faults and recall news since we also have a Toyota, and so this news report today made me try to check around for any connections.

The Toyota Sienna was mentioned in a couple of recent recalls of which the most pertinent seems to be the November 9, 2011 Toyota recall of 550,000 vehicles including MY 2004-2005 Sienna among others. The recall concerned a steering problem caused by the misalignment of the inner and outer rings of the crankshaft pulley, which could cause a noise or the Check Engine light to illuminate; if this problem is not corrected, the power steering belt can fall off the pulley, which can cause a sudden loss of power assist.

There may be no connection at all, but I think this is something that should be looked into rather swept away amidst cries of MFM and Miracles. A lot of Nigerians buy their cars either brand new or fairly used from the States or Asia, so it's not a stretch to think that faults in those cars - which may have been recalled elsewhere - could be leading to accidents involving those vehicles. The picture above shows the car was obtained, I hope this means that the officials carry out necessary investigations and see if a recall or alert needs to be sent out to Nigerian motorists with Toyotas.

This wiki entry is very comprehensive on the 2009 - 2011 Toyota Recalls
On their website, Toyota also lists some of the brands and recalls
On Dec 26, 2012, ABC reported that Toyota reached a $1.1 Billion settlement in lawsuits over acceleration problems. "According to plaintiffs' attorney Steve Berman, the settlement is worth more than $1 billion. That would make it the largest settlement in U.S. history involving automobile defects."


  1. You're right, Myne. I know someone here in the US who had to return their toyota camry when they recalled it two years ago. I'm glad this driver survived.

  2. Unfortunately, even if there are faulty cars in Nigeria, I'm not sure cars get recalled from here. I have no idea who is supposed to be in charge though..

    Glad the man was found alive...I hope they take necessary steps alongside Thanksgiving and testimonies.

  3. Av always maintained my stand. I hate toyota cos of these constant recalls. Imagine a man saved all his life to buy a fairly used Sienna to use 4 transportation. How will he even hear when d recall is announced. Its our system sha*
    I love mercedes brand cos they are so meticulus. It may be expensive but you won't regret in d long run

  4. the most sensible article on this matter i have read, Nigerians are so quick to assume we have been "jazzed", he was speeding or something of that sister and i assumed he may have blacked out but if he swam immediately to surface may not have been the you proffer an even better suggestion...

  5. Sure glad he survived. Not many have returned from such a plunge.

    I'm pretty convinced nothing (as per mass error checks) will come out of it, tho. We're way too sentimental!!!

  6. Do we even have a body that handles such investigations in Nigeria? I truly would love to know.

    Most likely the car would be towed to a junkyard or his house and later taken apart for whatever parts can be salvaged for sale.

    I wonder which of the existing bodies (MOT, LASTMA, FRSC and co) should be held responsible for such investigations.

  7. Myne, this is a totally new angle to this story. Never even thought it could have been caused by Manufacturer's fault. Not too optimistic that there'll be any sort of organized response from the Authorities though.


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