Ray LaHood, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, created a PR flap this morning. During a meeting of the House Appropriations panel, he advised Toyota owners to stop driving their cars immediately.
“If anybody owns of these vehicles, stop driving it. Take it to a Toyota dealer because they believe they have a fix for it,” LaHood said. “We need to fix the problem so people don’t have to worry about disengaging the engine or slamming the brakes on or put it in neutral.”
LaHood added that he would call Akio Toyoda, who became the president of Toyota in June, to address his recall concerns. The Associated Press reports that LaHood also confirmed the inclusion of Toyota electronics in its investigation of unintended acceleration at the hearing.
Shortly after the meeting, LaHood held a brief press conference, where he apologized for his comments.
“What I said in (the House hearing) was obviously a misstatement,” LaHood said. “If you are in doubt, take it to a dealer.”
Toyota issued a statement shortly afterward, thanking LaHood for the clarification.
“Our message to Toyota owners is this – if you experience any issues with your accelerator pedal, please contact your dealer without delay. If you are not experiencing any issues with your pedal, we are confident that your vehicle is safe to drive.”