Report: Former U.S. Attorney to Monitor Toyota Safety Programs

Former U.S. Attorney David Kelley will serve as an independent monitor overseeing Toyota’s safety efforts, according to a report from The Detroit News. Kelley’s appointment to this position was a requirement of the settlement made earlier this year where Toyota agreed to pay $1.2 billion to the government because of its mishandling of the “unintended acceleration” recalls between 2009 and 2010.

As part of this settlement, Toyota admitted that it misled customers about problems related to floor mats and sticking gas pedals that could cause unintended acceleration. The company did issue two large-scale recalls—one for floor mat issues in 2009 and another broader recall in 2010—but an investigation found that the automaker failed to alert officials about possible issues in a timely fashion.

Kelley’s role will thus focus on reviewing Toyota’s policies and procedures related to safety, along with ensuring the accuracy of the company’s public statements. As he independently monitors Toyota’s practices, Kelley will file reports with the U.S. Attorney’s office, which will decide whether to make any of the reported information public. This new position is still in the early stages, but a Toyota spokesperson did tell the Detroit News that it intends to have a “cooperative and constructive working relationship” with Kelley.

This change comes in the wake of similar shifts at General Motors and Chrysler, who have also made changes to their respective safety programs. GM appointed Jeff Boyer as a new Vehicle Safety Chief earlier this year, and Chrysler just announced this week a new office for Vehicle Safety and Regulatory Compliance.

Stay tuned to hear more about how Kelley’s position as independent monitor will affect Toyota’s forward progress in terms of safety.