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Safety Panel Says Toyota Resisted Warnings

Toyota resisted warnings that its design of pedals and floor pans could allow floor mats to trap the accelerator, posing a danger, a U.S. safety agency said.

Despite warnings by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that they saw potential hazards in Toyota cars and trucks, the Japanese automaker ignored the U.S. agency's findings and agreed only to a minor recall of a single type of floor mat, The Washington Post reported Friday.

Toyota has recalled about 6 million cars in the United States since October. The first recall involved fixing floor mats which were allegedly becoming entangled with gas pedals, causing drivers to lose speed control. The second recall, announced in January, took another approach at fixing the same problem of unintended acceleration.

During congressional hearings, Toyota lobbyists claimed last year to have saved the company $100 million by fending off the 2007 federal investigation into unintended acceleration. Toyota officials declined to answer questions asked by the Post this week about its lobbyists' efforts in 2007 to limit the scope of the recall.

In a statement, NHTSA said the floor pan and pedal design, while posing a possible danger, wasn't enough to force a recall, the Post said.

"In order for NHTSA to push a company to recall a vehicle for a safety defect, we must have evidence that it presents an unreasonable risk to safety," the agency said.

Calling the investigation "contentious," NHTSA said Toyota "remained resistant to recalling the floor mats."

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