Floor Mat Danger Promps Mass Toyota Recall

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Officials have ordered Toyota to inspect 3.8 million vehicles after a deadly accident last month-- marking the automaker's largest U.S. recall ever.

The decision by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration comes after investigators found a removable floor mat was to blame for a tragic crash that killed four people in southern California.

Along with the recall, Toyota owners have been urged to remove the mats.

In the accident, the driver's side floor mat wedged the gas pedal in place, prompting the car to accelerate as high as 120 mph. California Highway Patrol officer Mark Saylor, his wife, daughter and brother-in-law Chris Lastrella were all killed. Lastrella placed a frantic 911 call just before the accident.

The doomed car hit another before it rolled out of control, crashed and burst into flames. Now, investigators claim that floor mat problem may not have been the first.

Highway safety officials said they'd received more than 100 reports of similar incidents involving Toyota vehicles.

Owners of certain car models, including the Camry and Prius, will soon receive a letter advising them of the risks and asking them to remove their driver side floor mat, without replacing it until Toyota comes up with a solution.

It's also a concern experts say other automakers should address.

"It's an unknown hazard that's waiting to strike, and when it happens, the average driver doesn't have the reactions of a fighter pilot, and can't bring the car under control," explained Clarence Ditlow of the Center for Auto Safety.

The government will decide whether it needs to get involved and launch a safety investigation.

For more information on the recall, consumers can contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's hotline at (888) 327-4236, Toyota at (800) 331-4331 or Lexus at (800) 255-3987.

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