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The Soap Box

Around the Industry Blog image
Editor Debra Gorgos talks about the concerns, celebrations, and comings and goings of the carwashing industry that she hears about and witnesses in her daily life.

Blog: Is your carwash in danger?

February 22, 2013
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Back in 2010, and even more in 2011, PC&D started covering the topic of “sudden unintended acceleration” (SUA). An incident in December 2010 led to the death of a carwash worker at Flagship Carwash in Rockville, MD. A Jeep® suddenly accelerated while the driver was exiting the tunnel, and it struck two employees who were drying off a car. The vehicle then went across the street, dragging the two employees before hitting a telephone pole. Gavino Euseda, 48, was taken to the hospital where he died from his injuries. Another employee was taken to the hospital with critical injuries.

A report by Bloomberg News in 2010 highlighted instances of SUA at carwashes, specifically incidents involving Jeep® vehicles. It also revealed the findings by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) which had then received 15,174 grievances related to SUA in the last 30 years. Those complaints included 110 fatalities, 59 of which were attributed to Toyota vehicles. Another 56 models were involved in the remaining deaths, and Chrysler Jeep® Grand Cherokee is among the models generating multiple complaints for taking off at carwashes and service stations.

As our coverage of SUA incidents grew, I noticed the amount of incidents lessened. Perhaps that’s because carwash owners and operators knew about the risks involved and took the proper steps? I remember talking to one carwash owner who said they do not allow their employees to get into a customer’s Jeep. Another owner said they educate their employees on the risks involved with the aforementioned vehicle brands.

Whatever the case may be, I recently came across this piece of news regarding SUA. According to an 88.7 kuhf fm story,  Toyota has agreed to pay $29 Million to settle sudden acceleration claims. “The $29 million settlement resolves a multistate investigation into Toyota’s actions, in the wake of the discovery that certain models were subject to sudden, spontaneous accelerations. The problem affected nearly 400,000 Texas vehicle owners,” the story said.

More recently, another car model has been linked to SUA.  According to a WFAA-TV story, a teenager in Rockwall, TX, said the Hyundai Elantra he was driving suddenly accelerated out of control on the highway. The car eventually crashed and the teen broke several bones, but survived.

“Hyundai said it can’t explain what may have caused the car to suddenly accelerate, but called it ‘extremely unlikely for simultaneous and spontaneous total system failures for the brakes, accelerator and transmission to occur at the same time,’ in an e-mail written by company spokesman Jim Trainer,” according to the story.

Now, this incident did not occur at a carwash, but it still makes us wonder if other cars need to be monitored as well?

If you want more information, or have experienced an SUA incident, I suggest you visit http://suddenacceleration.com/.

In the meantime, be aware and be safe.