Turns out that some of the drivers who said their Toyotas and Lexuses surged out of control were mistakenly flooring the accelerator instead of jamming the brakes. The government came to that conclusion after analyzing dozens of data recorders from Toyota vehicles involved in accidents blamed on sudden acceleration. From the WSJ:
[National Highway Traffic Safety Administration] has received more than 3,000 complaints of sudden acceleration in Toyotas, including some dating to early last decade, according to a report the agency compiled in March. The incidents include 75 fatal crashes involving 93 deaths. However, NHTSA has been able to verify only one of those fatal crashes was caused by a problem with the vehicle, according to information the agency provided to the National Academy of Sciences. That accident last Aug. 28, which killed a California highway patrolman and three passengers in a Lexus, was traced to a floor mat that trapped the gas pedal in the depressed position.
These findings don't clear Toyota from having sticky accelerator pedals and floor mats that can trap accelerator pedals to the floor. But they could provide a little ammunition for Toyota attorneys looking to defend the car maker in a slew of litigation.