Toyota Advisors Blame Management Culture for Lackluster Response to Safety Complaints


By Michael Pines, San Diego’s Safety Ambassador

In the wake of slow and incomplete responses to a growing number of customer safety complaints, Toyota’s North American Quality Advisory Panel has released a 60-page report positing that management culture and accelerated company growth may be the culprit behind the car manufacturer’s shortcomings.

According to

The Los Angeles Times

, the seven-member panel concluded that a variety of factors related to Toyota’s management style – including contention with federal safety regulations and a competitive drive to become the world’s largest automaker – have influenced the company’s response to customer complaints, the most recent batch of which pertained to a dangerous sudden-acceleration tendency and prompted a 10 million vehicle international recall.

Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater, leader of the Quality Advisory Panel, noted that a company’s justifiable pride in achieving excellence can slowly but surely transform into complacency – a quality that threatens to undermine previous success with inferior quality.

The panel suggested that giving regional managers greater autonomy may help alleviate current weaknesses in customer response and quality production – particularly during times of rapid and critical development like the recent sudden-acceleration crisis.

Putting Safety First to Prevent Recalls and Danger on the Road

Corporate arrogance and managerial complacency are dangerous attributes for any company; and when it comes to product manufacturers – and auto makers in particular – that danger is amplified by the risk posed to unsuspecting consumers. Toyota is a great and successful company, but in order to continue earning customer loyalty and trust they must ensure that safety, rather than mere symbols of success, remain a top priority.

Of course, as consumers and safety advocates, it behooves us to hold up our end of the bargain when it comes to maintaining vehicle integrity and accident-free roads. Keep track of product recalls – not just for your car, but for other household goods and products as well. Also, conduct thorough consumer reports and safety research before investing in new vehicles or other major appliances, and adhere to regular maintenance schedules to avoid technical problems and breakdowns.

Finally, let us all take a lesson from the North American Quality Control Panel’s report on Toyota management: first, commit to safe habits – and then make sure that a clean driving record and ample experience behind the wheel never become an excuse for complacency or carelessness on the road.

I have aimed to educate consumers on safety throughout my 20 years of experience as senior counsel at the Law Offices of Michael Pines, APC. We are personal injury attorneys putting community safety first. For more consumer tips, find us at