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Unintended acceleration alleged in Ford vehicles

Yet another claim of unintended acceleration has been brought against a major auto manufacturer. This time, a lawsuit has been filed against Ford, claiming that vehicles have a design defect that allows them to accelerate unexpectedly and cause crashes.

A federal lawsuit has been filed in West Virginia on behalf of Ford owners, and attorneys are seeking class-action status for a product liability case, representing millions owners of vehicles manufactured from 2002 to 2010.

Unintended acceleration has been alleged to be a problem in various cars since the 1990s, from Audis to the recent problems with Toyota. The cause of the problem has been suggested to be everything from drivers confusing brake and accelerator peddles, to floor mats becoming jammed under pedals.

While driver error may cause some accidents, the Toyota investigation did suggest that some of the crashes could have been caused by transient electronic problems with the vehicles that would practically be impossible to reproduce.

As more and more electronic systems control parts of the engine and throttle, if there is a design defect that could affect the operation of the vehicle, it may never leave a detectable 'trace' of error. Unlike when a mechanical linkage failed, it was easy to determine what went wrong.

Toyota was forced to pay over $1.1 billion in damages to owners of their vehicles. This case claims that almost a quarter of all cases unintended acceleration involved Ford vehicles and that they should have used brake interlocks to prevent the drivers from accelerating when pressing on both the brake and accelerator pedal.

Source: NBC News, "Lawsuit claims Ford 'design defect' can cause sudden acceleration," March 31, 2013

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