Complaints of auto defects leading to sudden acceleration are nothing new, but the recall of 3.8 million Toyotas has led some investigative reporters to some unsettling conclusions. According to the Los Angeles Times, automakers and safety experts are questioning whether there are inherent design flaws in vehicles that prevent drivers from taking appropriate action when unexpected acceleration occurs. They cite the Lexus ES 350 as an example. With its push-button start system that relies on the combination of a handheld device and a dashboard button, the Lexus doesn’t make it easy for a driver to do what seems like a no-brainer when a car is accelerating out of control: shut off the engine. The button has to be held down for three seconds once the car is moving - something most drivers wouldn’t know, and which can seem like an eternity when the car is careening.

Other sophisticated electronic components and design elements can create a confusing or no-win situation for a driver. It’s can be difficult to shift a vehicle into neutral, and the vacuum pressure drop when the car’s throttle is fully open makes power-assisted brakes worthless.