Controversial Essay Topics 2011 Toyota

Three separate but related recalls of automobiles by Toyota Motor Corporation occurred at the end of 2009 and start of 2010. Toyota initiated the recalls, the first two with the assistance of the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), after reports that several vehicles experienced unintended acceleration. The first recall, on November 2, 2009, was to correct a possible incursion of an incorrect or out-of-place front driver's side floor mat into the foot pedal well, which can cause pedal entrapment. The second recall, on January 21, 2010, was begun after some crashes were shown not to have been caused by floor mat incursion. This latter defect was identified as a possible mechanical sticking of the accelerator pedal causing unintended acceleration, referred to as Sticking Accelerator Pedal by Toyota. The original action was initiated by Toyota in their Defect Information Report, dated October 5, 2009, amended January 27, 2010.[1] Following the floor mat and accelerator pedal recalls, Toyota also issued a separate recall for hybrid anti-lock brake software in February 2010.[2]

As of January 28, 2010, Toyota had announced recalls of approximately 5.2 million vehicles for the pedal entrapment/floor mat problem, and an additional 2.3 million vehicles for the accelerator pedal problem. Approximately 1.7 million vehicles are subject to both.[3][4] Certain related Lexus and Pontiac models were also affected.[5][6] The next day, Toyota widened the recall to include 1.8 million vehicles in Europe and 75,000 in China.[7] By then, the worldwide total number of cars recalled by Toyota stood at 9 million.[8] Sales of multiple recalled models were suspended for several weeks as a result of the accelerator pedal recall,[9] with the vehicles awaiting replacement parts. As of January 2010, 21 deaths were alleged due to the pedal problem since 2000, but following the January 28 recall, additional NHTSA complaints brought the alleged total to 37.[10] The number of alleged victims and reported problems sharply increased following the recall announcements,[11] which were heavily covered by U.S. media,[12] although the causes of individual reports were difficult to verify.[13][14][15] Government officials, automotive experts, Toyota, and members of the general public contested the scope of the sudden acceleration issue and the veracity of victim and problem reports.[16][17][18] Various parties attributed sudden unintended acceleration reports to mechanical, electric, and driver error causes.[19][20][21] Some US owners that had their recalled vehicles repaired still reported accelerator pedal issues, leading to investigations and the finding of improper repairs.[22][23] The recalls further led to additional NHTSA and Toyota investigations,[24][25] along with multiple lawsuits.[26]

On February 8, 2011, the NHTSA, in collaboration with NASA, released its findings into the investigation on the Toyota drive-by-wire throttle system. After a 10-month search, NASA and NHTSA scientists found no electronic defect in Toyota vehicles.[27] Driver error or pedal misapplication was found responsible for most of the incidents.[28] The report ended stating, "Our conclusion is Toyota's problems were mechanical, not electrical." This included sticking accelerator pedals, and pedals caught under floor mats.[29]

However, on October 24, 2013, a jury ruled against Toyota and found that unintended acceleration could have been caused due to deficiencies in the drive-by-wire throttle system or Electronic Throttle Control System (ETCS). Michael Barr of the Barr Group testified that NASA had not been able to complete its examination of Toyota's ETCS and that Toyota did not follow best practices for real time life critical software, and that a single bit flip which can be caused by cosmic rays could cause unintended acceleration. As well, the run-time stack of the real-time operating system was not large enough and that it was possible for the stack to grow large enough to overwrite data that could cause unintended acceleration.[30][31] As a result, Toyota has entered into settlement talks with its plaintiffs.[32]

Recall timeline[edit]

  • Sep 26, 2007 – US: 55,000 Toyota Camry and ES 350 cars in "all-weather" floor mat recall.[33]
  • Nov 02, 2009 – US: 3.8 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles again recalled due to floor mat problem, this time for all driver's side mats.[5]
  • Nov 26, 2009 – US: floor mat recall amended to include brake override[4] and increased to 4.2 million vehicles.[citation needed]
  • Jan 21, 2010 – US: 2.3 million Toyota vehicles recalled due to faulty accelerator pedals[6] (of those, 2.1 million already involved in floor mat recall).[3]
  • Jan 27, 2010 – US: 1.1 million Toyotas added to amended floor mat recall.[34]
  • Jan 29, 2010 – Europe, China: 1.8 million Toyotas added to faulty accelerator pedal recall.[7]
  • Feb 08, 2010 – Worldwide: 436,000 hybrid vehicles in brake recall following 200 reports of Prius brake glitches.[2]
  • Feb 08, 2010 – US: 7,300 model year 2010 Camry vehicles recalled over potential brake tube problems.[35]
  • Feb 12, 2010 – US: 8,000 MY 2010 4WD Tacoma pick-up trucks recalled over concerns about possible defective front drive shafts.[36]
  • Apr 16, 2010 – US: 600,000 MY 1998–2010 Toyota Sienna for possible corrosion of spare tire carrier cable.[37]
  • Apr 19, 2010 – World: 21,000 MY 2010 Toyota Land Cruiser Prado and 13,000 Lexus GX 460 SUV's recalled to reprogram the stability control system.[38][39]
  • Apr 28, 2010 – US: 50,000 MY 2003 Toyota Sequoia recalled to reprogram the stability control system.[40]
  • May 21, 2010 – Japan: 4,509, US: 7,000 MY 2010 LS for steering system software update[41]
  • July 5, 2010 – World: 270,000 Crown and Lexus models for valve springs with potential production issue.[42]
  • July 29, 2010 – US: 412,000 Avalons and LX 470s for replacement of steering column components.[43]
  • August 28, 2010 – US & Canada: approximately 1.13 million Toyota Corolla and Toyota Matrix vehicles produced between 2005 and 2008 for Engine Control Modules (ECM) that may have been improperly manufactured.[44]
  • February 8, 2011 – US: NASA and NHTSA inquiry reveals that there were no electronic faults in Toyota cars that would have caused acceleration issues. However, accelerator pedal entrapments remains a problem.[45]
  • February 22, 2011 – US: Toyota recalls an additional 2.17 million vehicles for accelerator pedals that become trapped on floor hardware.[46]

Floor mat recall[edit]

On September 26, 2007, Toyota recalled 55,000 sets of heavy-duty rubber floor mats from the Toyota Camry and ES 350 sedans.[33] The recalled mats were of the optional "all-weather" type. NHTSA stated that the recall was due to the risk that unsecured mats could move forward and trap the accelerator pedal.[33]

On August 28, 2009, a two-car collision killed four people riding in a Lexus dealer-provided loaner ES 350 in San Diego, California.[48][49][50][51] The NHTSA released a safety investigation report on October 25, finding that the accident vehicle was wrongly fitted with all-weather rubber floor mats meant for the RX 400hSUV, and that these mats were not secured by either of the two retaining clips.[52] The brake hardware also showed signs of heavy braking consistent with a stuck accelerator pedal.[52] The report stated that the accelerator pedal's hinge did not allow relieving obstructions, and the dashboard lacked directions for the three-second emergency press of the push buttonkeyless ignition. NHTSA investigators also recovered the accident vehicle's accelerator pedal, which was still "bonded" to the SUV floor mat.[52] The return spring action of the accelerator pedal was found to be "smooth and unencumbered."[53]

Another investigation conducted by the San Diego County Sheriff's Department found that three days prior to the crash another customer had complained to the dealership about the floor mat trapping the same loaner car's accelerator pedal while driving.[54] The prior driver had switched to neutral and tugged on the floor mat, which released the accelerator.[54]

On November 2, 2009, the NHTSA denied a petition to reopen previously closed unintended acceleration investigations of Toyota vehicles, stating they had already been thoroughly investigated making it unlikely for the NHTSA to reach any new conclusions.[55] Later that day Toyota issued a voluntary recall of 3.8 million vehicles, with a letter sent to owners asking them to remove the driver floor mat and not replace it with any other type of mat.[5] In its November 2, 2009 recall announcement, Toyota appeared to claim the floor mats were solely at fault, stating, "The question of unintended acceleration involving Toyota and Lexus vehicles has been repeatedly and thoroughly investigated by NHTSA, without any finding of defect other than the risk from an unsecured or incompatible driver’s floor mat",[5][56] but the NHTSA issued another statement stating, "This matter is not closed until Toyota has effectively addressed the defect", the letter was “inaccurate and misleading", and that, "removal of the floor mats is simply an interim measure, not a remedy of the underlying defect in the vehicles."[57][58]

Affected vehicles for floor mat recall[edit]

According to Toyota USA, the floor mat recall is confined to the following models:[59]

Toyota UK states that the floor mat recall affects US models only.[60]

Amended recall to include accelerator pedal[edit]

On November 25, 2009 Toyota amended its floor mat recall involving the same 3.8 million vehicles sold in North America. Toyota will reconfigure the accelerator pedal, replace the all-weather floor mats with thinner mats, and install a brake override system to prevent unwanted acceleration.[4] The brake override system, also called "brake to idle" and already a common design in German cars, allows the driver to override the accelerator by hitting the brakes. In a follow-up statement, the NHTSA announced the November 25, 2009 recall details as a "vehicle-based remedy" to address the floor mat pedal issue.[61] According to Toyota, the repair work done under the amended recall for floor mat incursion problems are as follows:[4]

  • The accelerator pedal will be shaved to reduce risk of floor mat entrapment.
  • All-weather floor mats will be removed and replaced with a newly designed mat.
  • A brake override system, which cuts engine power if both the accelerator and brake are detected as pressed, will be installed.
  • A replacement pedal with the same shape as the modified pedal would be made available at a later date.
  • For drivers who have existing all-weather floor mat but do not need or want the newly designed all-weather floor mat, the existing mat will be removed and the owner reimbursed.

In its November 25, 2009 announcement, Toyota stated that dealers would be instructed first on how to reshape the accelerator pedal for the repair.[4] Installation of the brake override began in January 2010 on Toyota Camry and Lexus ES 350 models, the vehicles with the most units included in the recall.[38][62]

Accelerator pedal recall[edit]

On January 21, 2010, Toyota initiated a second recall, this time in response to reports of accelerator pedals sticking in cars without floor mats.[9] The company had received three such complaints in 2009.[63] In its recall announcement, Toyota stated that:

The condition is rare and does not occur suddenly. It can occur when the pedal mechanism becomes worn and, in certain conditions, the accelerator pedal may become harder to depress, slower to return or, in the worst case, stuck in a partially depressed position.[4]

A concurrent NHTSA press release identified the issue as the "Sticky Pedal Recall" and described the problem and remedy as follows:

  • The accelerator pedal becomes harder to depress or slower to return to the closed position.
  • The accelerator pedal may become stuck in partially depressed position.
  • Should the pedal become stuck while driving, drivers should switch to neutral and stop.
  • A repair fix would be applied by the manufacturer to prevent the sticky pedal condition.
  • A new pedal would later be made available to replace repaired pedals.[64]

The January 21 recall announcement for the accelerator pedal problem covered 2.3 million vehicles sold in the U.S.[3][4] Toyota then widened the recall to include 1.8 million vehicles in Europe and 75,000 in China.[7] On January 26, Toyota announced that until they had finalized an appropriate remedy to address the potential for sticking accelerator pedals, sales would be suspended for selected vehicles.[9]

On January 31, 2010 the Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. regulators cleared Toyota's proposed repair for the pedals and the company would resume production by February 8.[65] On February 1, 2010 Toyota said that its dealers should get parts to fix the sticky accelerator pedal by the end of the week.[66]

Affected vehicles and vehicle lines[edit]

According to the manufacturer, Toyota's accelerator pedal recall and suspension of sales in North America is confined to the following vehicles (vehicles affected are based on certain Vehicle Identification Numbers):[4][67]

On January 27, 2010, Toyota USA issued an expanded list of vehicles under recall including:[1]

* vehicles built in Japan use Denso pedals and are not subject to the recall

On January 29, 2010, the Toyota recall was extended to Europe and China.[68] The number of vehicles likely to be affected in Europe was unconfirmed but Toyota said it may reach up to 1.8 million.[7] At the time of recall there had been 30 incidents involving the accelerator pedal problem in Europe.[69]

The vehicles affected in Europe are:[69]

On January 30, 2010, PSA Peugeot Citroën announced it was recalling cars built in a Czech Republic plant, Toyota Peugeot Citroën Automobile Czech, a joint venture with Toyota. Although the company did not say when it would begin the recall, nor how many cars were affected, the plant in question, which produces the Peugeot 107, Citroën C1 and the Toyota Aygo, produces 200,000 cars a year.[71] On February 2, 2010, Toyota announced that the recalls could extend to Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East, where Toyota said it had sold a total of 180,000 vehicles, although the company did not specify how many might be affected by a recall.[72] On February 3, 2010, Toyota Australia announced that its accelerator pedals are made by a different supplier and that there is no need for a recall of Australian made vehicles.[73]

History of accelerator pedal design[edit]

Automobile accelerator pedals have historically been mechanical assemblies which link the pedal to the engine throttle by mechanical linkages or a Bowden cable. With the advent of electronic throttle control, accelerator pedals consist of a spring-loaded pedal arm connected to an electronic transducer. This transducer, typically a potentiometer or Hall effect sensor, converts the position of the pedal arm to an electronic signal which is sent to an electronic control unit (ECU).

The older mechanically designed accelerator pedals not only provided a spring return, but the mechanism inherently provided some friction. This friction introduced mechanical hysteresis into the pedal force versus pedal position transfer function. Put more simply, once the pedal was set at a specific position, the friction would help keep the pedal at this setting. This made it easier for the driver to maintain a pedal position. For example, if the driver's foot is slightly jostled by a bump in road, the accelerator pedal would tend to stay at its setting. While these old purely mechanical designs did have some friction, the return spring force was always designed to overcome this friction with a considerable safety margin. The return spring force ensured that throttle returned to zero if the pedal force applied by the driver was reduced or removed.

With electronic accelerator pedals, there was little inherent friction because of the simplicity of the mechanical design. The tactile pedal response of only a spring force with no hysteresis can make it more difficult for a driver to maintain an accelerator pedal position. Manufacturers of electronic accelerator pedals designed their pedals with additional parts to recreate the tactile response of the older mechanical accelerator pedals. To quote from CTS Corporation's 2004 US patent application:

...drivers generally prefer the feel, i.e., the tactile response, of conventional cable-driven throttle systems. Designers have therefore attempted to address this preference with mechanisms for emulating the tactile response of cable-driven accelerator pedals.[74]

The Toyota electronic accelerator pedals contain a special friction device made of nylon 4/6 or polyphenylene sulfide within the pedal assembly to recreate the tactile response of older pedals. According to the Toyota recall information, it is this device, which in some instances, has been preventing the accelerator pedal from returning to zero. To quote from the Toyota recall FAQ:

The issue involves a friction device in the pedal designed to provide the proper “feel” by adding resistance and making the pedal steady and stable. This friction device includes a “shoe” that rubs against an adjoining surface during normal pedal operation. Due to the materials used, wear and environmental conditions, these surfaces may, over time, begin to stick and release instead of operating smoothly. In some cases, friction could increase to a point that the pedal is slow to return to the idle position or, in rare cases, the pedal sticks, leaving the throttle partially open.[75]

According to Toyota, the tactile response friction device in the affected Toyota electronic accelerator pedals sometimes creates too much friction. This excess friction either slows the pedal return or completely stops it. In the worst case, once a pedal is pushed to a specific setting, it stays at the setting even if the driver removes their foot from the pedal. Early reports, in March 2007, involved the Tundra pickup truck, which used nylon 4/6 in the friction lever.[76]

Some questions and confusion exist if the Toyota explanation fully accounts for all instances of the unintended acceleration involving Toyota vehicles. CTS Corporation,[77] the American manufacturer of the electronic accelerator pedals that Toyota claims are at fault, has announced that:

The problem of sudden unintended acceleration has been reported to have existed in some Lexus vehicles and Toyota vehicles going back to 1999, when CTS did not even make this product for any customer, CTS believes that the rare slow return pedal phenomenon, which may occur in extreme environmental conditions, should absolutely not be linked with any sudden unintended acceleration incidents. CTS is also not aware of any accidents and injuries caused by the rare slow return pedal condition, to the best of its knowledge. CTS wishes to clarify that it does not, and has never made, any accelerator pedals for Lexus vehicles and that CTS also has no accelerator pedals in Toyota vehicles prior to model year 2005.[78]

In June 2010, Chrysler also recalled 35,000 Dodge and Jeep models for sticky accelerator pedals made by CTS Corporation. Chrysler stated that the CTS pedals have pivot bushings that may dislodge, causing the accelerator to become stuck or slow to return to idle.[79]

Field workaround for sudden unintended acceleration[edit]

Different "workarounds", user actions that ameliorate or prevent a negative, previously unforeseen circumstance, have been suggested as temporary fixes:

  • Putting the car's transmission in neutral during out-of-control acceleration disengages the gears;[80]
  • Turning the ignition to the ACC (accessory) position, which, while cutting power to the engine, will also disable the power steering and the brake assist.
  • Turning the ignition key to the OFF position, which will also cut power, but may cause lockage of the steering wheels and will also disable the power steering and the brake assist.[81]

On whether braking alone may fail to stop affected vehicles, a driver account in the Los Angeles Times claimed that the attempt to stop a 2005 Camry was unsuccessful with both the brake and emergency brake.[82] However, tests of the Camry by Car and Driver in 2009, attempting to use the brakes to stop acceleration of a purposely stuck throttle at 70, 100, and 120 mph, found that the test driver was able to reduce speed to 10 mph in all instances, and in the 70 and 100 mph tests, stop the car completely.[83][84] The Camry's braking distances with a purposely stuck accelerator were also shorter than that of the Ford Taurus' regular stopping distance.[83]Car and Driver concluded that, based on their emergency stopping tests, the Camry's brakes could overcome the accelerator in all cases even without a brake override, and that stopping distances with a wide-open throttle were largely indiscernible from regular braking.[83]

In 2010, also tested the stopping distances of a Toyota Camry SE V6 with a purposely stuck wide-open throttle. Their tests found that the car's brakes could override a stuck accelerator and bring the car to a stop. Although the transmission downshifted and the engine continued to propel the car, stopping distance compared "favorably to a normal panic stop on wet asphalt."[85] did note that switching to neutral was the best option, given that average drivers may not press the brakes as firmly, and lighter presses will simply wear the brakes down.[85] The German Commission on Technical Compliance (TÜV) of Rheinland also tested the stopping distance of Toyota iQ, Aygo, Yaris, Auris, Verso, Avensis and RAV4 models.[86] With the accelerator purposely jammed to 80% of maximum speed, each vehicle was able to brake safely to a halt.[86] The TÜV findings indicated that each model met the legal requirements for deceleration and stopping distances, and that all Toyota models tested had brakes which could override a stuck accelerator.[86]

Anti-lock brake software recall[edit]

On February 3, 2010, the NHTSA announced that it had received reports from 102 drivers of possible problems related to the braking system on the 2010 model yearToyota Prius,[87] while an additional 14 such reports had been received in Japan. Three of these reports claimed that brake problems had led to the car crashing, with one accident in July 2009 occurring when a Prius crashed head on into another car injuring two people.[88] The Prius was not involved in Toyota's second recall, although it had been involved in the first recall involving floor mats. Toyota said that it was investigating the reports, and that it would be "premature to comment."[89] On February 3, 2010 the Japanese Transport Ministry began conducting an investigation on the redesigned Prius,[90] and Toyota said that it was aware of 77 Prius brake complaints in Japan.[91] On February 4, 2010, the NHTSA announced it had opened an investigation into the issues with the Prius's brakes,[92] which Toyota said was caused by a software glitch. The company said it was looking into the best way to solve the problem.[93] An internal NHTSA memo indicated that the issue was the "short delay" in regenerative braking when hitting a bump, resulting in increased stopping distance.[94]

On February 6, 2010, Toyota said that it had fixed the braking problem on Prius models built since late January 2010 via a software update for the ABS system to improve brake response.[2] On the same day, a Japanese newspaper reported that Toyota had contacted dealers in Japan about their intent to recall all affected vehicles. While it was unclear if the same step would be taken elsewhere, American dealers had been told that Toyota was planning on repairing the vehicles.[95] On February 8, Toyota announced a voluntary global recall of 2010 model year Prius models produced through late January 2010.[2][96] The affected vehicles will receive a software update for the brakes and its ABS system.[2] In total, Toyota recalled three hybrid vehicles to reprogram the anti-lock braking (ABS) software.[38] In February 2010, a US federal grand jury in New York began the process of determining if there is probable cause to charge Toyota criminally for the way it has handled the Prius' brake recall,[97] and a civil class action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of 2010 Prius hybrid owners.[98] A total of 133,000 Prius vehicles in the U.S. and 52,000 in Europe are to receive the same software update.[2] reports that this affects the third-generation Prius built before January 27, 2010.

Affected vehicles for anti-lock brake software recall[edit]

Other recalls[edit]

On February 8, 2009, Toyota announced a recall of approximately 7,300 early 2010 model year 4-cylinder Camrys due to the possibility of the power steering hose rubbing into the front brake line which may cause a brake fluid leak.[99]

On February 3, 2010, Toyota recalled approximately 153,000 vehicles from model years 2005 to 2011 for failing to comply with requirements of FMVSS 110, "Tire Selection and Rims", due to missing load carrying capacity labels.

On February 12, 2010, Toyota recalled approximately 8,000 2010 model year 4WD Tacoma trucks for potential front drive shaft issues. The recall involves inspecting a drive shaft component which if cracked will be replaced.[100] The Tacoma pickups were built between mid-December 2009 and early February 2010. Most affected vehicles have not been sold.[101]

Another recall for frame corrosion recall was confined to the following model(s):[102] MY 2000–2003 Toyota Tundra. According to Toyota USA, frame corrosion could allow spare tires or the fuel tank to fall off the vehicle.

On July 7, 2010, Toyota recalled 270,000 Lexus and Crown vehicles worldwide for improperly manufactured valve springs. According to Toyota, the condition can cause rough idling and potential engine stalling.

On October 21, 2010, Toyota announced a recall of 1.53 million vehicles (740,000 in the U.S., 599,000 in Japan, and 191,000 in Europe and other markets) worldwide; the recall effects MY 2005 and 2006 Avalon, MY 2004 to 2006 Highlander (non-hybrid) and Lexus RX330 and MY 2006 Lexus GS300, IS250 and IS350; the models affected in Japan and elsewhere (except the U.S.) include MY 2002 to 2006 Toyota Crown, Crown Majesta, Harrier, Mark X, Alphard, Kluger and Lexus GS350, IS250 and IS350. The recall concerns brake fluid leakage from the master cylinder (U.S. market and non U.S. marketed Toyota Crown and Lexus GS350) and an electrical problem with the fuel pump, which would cause engine stalling (all markets except the U.S.).

On November 9, 2011, Toyota announced a recall of 550,000 vehicles (447,000 in the U.S., 38,000 in Japan, and 25,000 in Australia and New Zealand) worldwide; the recall affects MY 2004-2005 Camry, Highlander, Sienna and Solara, MY 2004 Avalon, MY 2006 Highlander HV, MY 2004-2005 Lexus ES330 and RX330 and MY 2006 RX400h. The recall concerns a steering problem caused by the misalignment of the inner and outer rings of the crankshaft pulley, which could cause a noise or the Check Engine light to illuminate; if this problem is not corrected, the power steering belt can fall off the pulley, which can cause a sudden loss of power assist.

On October 10, 2012, Toyota announced a recall of 7.43 million vehicles (2.47 million in the US, 460,000 in Japan, 1.39 million in Europe, 3.11 million in other markets) worldwide. In the US the recall affects MY 2005-2010 Yaris, Corolla, Matrix, Camry, RAV4, Highlander, Tundra and Sequoia as well as Scion xB and xD. In Japan the recall affects MY 2005-2010 Vitz, Belta, Ractis, Ist and Corolla Rumion. In Europe the recall affects MY 2005-2010 Yaris, Corolla, Auris, Camry and RAV-4. Vehicles in overseas markets are also affected. The recall concerns a problem with the driver's side power window switch that "sticks" and could lead it to melt or catch fire.[103] It is "not something that would cause any deadly accidents like the recall of 2009" and repairs include the application of a special fluorine grease to the switch.[103]

On January 30, 2013, Toyota announced a recall of one million vehicles in the US. The recall affects 752,000 MY 2003-2004 Corolla and Corolla Matrix models. The recall concerns the airbag module, which can cause the airbag to inflate improperly. Toyota also announced a recall affecting 270,000 MY 2006-2012 Lexus IS models. This recall concerns loose nuts on the wiper blades, which can cause the wipers to fail, especially if there is a heavy buildup of snow.

On March 15, 2013, Toyota announced a recall of 209,000 vehicles in the US. The recall affects MY 2007-2013 FJ Cruiser models. The recall concerns the driver and front passenger seat belt retractors, which can come loose, especially if the rear doors are slammed repeatedly.


Numerous investigations have taken place, including those by the U.S. NHTSA and Japanese transport ministry.[104] The difficulty of investigations is compounded by the fact that driver error can be a possibility in certain cases. The Wall Street Journal reported, "Even when dealers and auto makers suspect driver error, it is difficult for them to outright blame their customers for fear of alienating them or appearing insensitive",[20] which USA Today also suggested.[105] Questions about why cases are mainly in the U.S. have also been raised by international investigations; German publication Der Spiegel reported that similar accidents have rarely occurred outside North America, and although there have been some reports of stuck Toyota accelerator pedals in Germany, all drivers braked successfully without loss of life.[106]

In another U.S. incident, on December 26, 2009, four people died in Southlake, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, when their 2008 Toyota Avalon sped off the road and through a fence, landing upside down in a pond. The car's floor mats were found in the trunk of the car, where owners had been advised to put them as part of the recall.[107] According to the police report, the driver suffered from epilepsy, but investigators could not rule out either a vehicle defect or the possibility that the driver had suffered a seizure.[15][108]

On Feb 17, 2010, US safety regulators launched an investigation into Corolla steering complaints.[109][110] Following the widespread media publicity of the recalls, several media publications suggested that investigations of subsequent reports would have considered the possibility of "copycat complaints" and hoaxes, with potential complainants seeking to capitalize on possible settlement money,[111] or affected by the psychological bandwagon effect of the mass publicity.[112]

On March 14, 2010, the Norwegian government considered whether to ban Prius cars from roads in Norway pending an investigation after a near fatal incident involving a senior citizen.[113] On March 29, after receipt of technical and other information, police indicted the driver involved in the Prius incident for making "a false emergency call to police".[114]

The use of vehicle event data recorders and video surveillance also proved beneficial to investigators, with findings of driver error in a March 9, 2010 Prius alleged sudden acceleration crash, where a 56-year-old housekeeper claimed to have braked but was recorded pressing the wrong pedal,[115] and also in a March 29, 2010 Camry alleged sudden acceleration crash, where a 76-year-old driver claimed to have braked, but was filmed not doing so until after impact.[116]

NHTSA investigations[edit]

NHTSA data shows that there was an annual average of 26 abrupt acceleration reports in 1999–2001 Toyota Camry and Lexus ES models. This number increased by more than 400% to a total of 132 annually in 2002–2004 models, which were designed with new electronic throttles.[117] Toyota responded by stating,

Six times in the past six years NHTSA has undertaken an exhaustive review of allegations of unintended acceleration on Toyota and Lexus vehicles and six times the agency closed the investigation without finding any electronic engine control system malfunction to be the cause of unintended acceleration.[118]

In 2004, the NHTSA launched a probe of throttle control systems on around 1 million Lexus and Toyota sedans.[119] Upon that probe, Toyota urged the NHTSA to define the issues as quick bursts where the engine surged to "something less than a wide-open throttle." The company compared the complaints to previous sudden unintended acceleration cases the NHTSA deemed "driver error."[119] It also said the computer could not open the throttle without the accelerator pedal pressed, and, the brakes would be able to stop the car anyway.[119]

After several months of investigating, the NHTSA said it found no evidence of a defect and there was no data indicating any bad parts.[119]Christopher Santucci, an employee of Toyota's Washington, D.C. office and an NHTSA employee until he was hired by Toyota in 2003, testified that he was informed by the NHTSA in March 2004 about pending investigation over unintended acceleration complaints. According to Santucci in his deposition, his former NHTSA colleagues decided not to investigate some incidents involving acceleration lasting longer than 1 second. The decision to exclude certain incidents from the investigation apparently reduced the significance of the issue to the NHTSA at least on paper.[119][120][121] However, in 2005, 2006 and 2008, Toyota customers again asked the NHTSA to investigate uncontrolled acceleration from electronic throttle controls and power steering issues. Although there were hundreds of complaints, the NHTSA found no evidence of defects; and in every case, Toyota provided data it said showed no such evidence.

On November 2, 2009, the NHTSA denied a petition to reopen previously closed unintended investigations of Toyota vehicles, stating they were unlikely to reach any new conclusions.[122] In February 2010, however NHTSA was again looking into the electronic throttle control systems on Toyota vehicles.[24] In February 2010, State Farm insurance revealed that it had warned NHTSA in late 2007 on an increased trend of Toyota accidents related to the recalled models; other insurers stated however that they had not seen such a trend.[123] On June 1, 2010, the NHTSA opened an investigation into reports that floor mats were jamming accelerators in Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan sedans.[124] On June 30, 2010, NHTSA reported on its latest broad study of unintended acceleration on all car makes, including Toyota, in conjunction with NASA and the National Academy of Sciences. NHTSA stated that it was unable to find electronic throttle defects, but identified floor mat entrapment and pedals that were slow to return to idle as two causes of Toyota complaints. NHTSA also stated it could only verify one Toyota unintended acceleration accident caused by a vehicle defect.[125] On July 14, 2010, the Wall Street Journal reported that NHTSA investigations of 75 accidents alleged to sudden acceleration in Toyota vehicles had found driver error as the primary cause in all but one case attributed to floor mats.[126][127] Black box recorder data found that during these crashes, the throttle was open and brakes not pressed.[127] On July 30, the Wall Street Journal quoted the former head of NHTSA's Recall Management Division stating that the investigation "has become very political", with Department of Transportation officials "hoping against hope that they find something that points back to a flaw".[128] Although the NHTSA study finding driver error was reportedly complete, DOT officials had blocked its release.[128]

On February 8, 2011, NASA and the NHTSA announced the findings of a ten-month study concerning the causes of the Toyota malfunctions of 2009.[129] According to their findings, there were no electronic faults in the cars that could have caused the sudden-acceleration problems. [45][45][130][131][132] "The jury is back, the verdict is in: There is no electronic-based cause for unintended high-speed acceleration in Toyotas, period," Transportation Department Secretary Ray LaHood declared in the LA Times.[45]

MLIT investigations[edit]

Hiroko Tabuchi writing in the New York Times claims that problematic vehicles may have been accurately reported in Japan due to police correctly blaming driver error, as no verified unintended acceleration case exists.[citation needed] The Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) released its findings of sudden acceleration complaints in February 2010, finding that of the 134 cases logged by the ministry between 2007 and 2009, Toyota accounted for 38 cases (28.3% of all reported).[133] Because Toyota's market share was approximately 27.8% of all passenger cargo vehicles, the MLIT noted that no particularly unusual rate was found among these complaints.[133]

US congressional hearings[edit]

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee held hearings in February 2010.[20][134] Retired social worker Rhonda Smith testified before Congress that her car accelerated out of control but the NHTSA investigator determined that a misplaced floor mat had caused the problem;[20] the subsequent owner of the car reported no trouble after driving the car over 27,000 miles.[20]

In a February 2010 letter to Toyota, US congressional investigators "said a review of consumer complaints produced by Toyota shows that company personnel identified sticking pedals or floor mats as the cause of only 16 percent of the unintended acceleration reports".[135] Several media reports later claimed that Toyota had announced that the recalls will not completely solve the accelerator pedal problems. On February 24, 2010, Toyota responded that it "has rigorously tested its solutions" and are "confident" with the recall repairs, but that it would continue to monitor other possible contributing factors for unintended acceleration, including mechanical, electronics, and driver error.[136]Akio Toyoda, the president and CEO of Toyota, issued the following statement in regards to the recalled vehicles:[137]

Toyota has, for the past few years, been expanding its business rapidly. Quite frankly, I fear the pace at which we have grown may have been too quick. I would like to point out here that Toyota's priority has traditionally been the following: First; Safety, Second; Quality, and Third; Volume. These priorities became confused, and we were not able to stop, think, and make improvements as much as we were able to before, and our basic stance to listen to customers' voices to make better products has weakened somewhat. We pursued growth over the speed at which we were able to develop our people and our organization, and we should sincerely be mindful of that. I regret that this has resulted in the safety issues described in the recalls we face today, and I am deeply sorry for any accidents that Toyota drivers have experienced. Especially, I would like to extend my condolences to the members of the Saylor family, for the accident in San Diego. I would like to send my prayers again, and I will do everything in my power to ensure that such a tragedy never happens again.

In early 2010, the US government began considering requiring all vehicles sold in the US to have accelerator override built into their brake systems.[138]

Research groups have questioned whether Toyota would "get off easily" because of its large investment in lobbying in Washington, with close ties to the congressional representatives who will lead inquiries into the company's string of safety problems.[139] Other publications noted that half the Democratic congressional members involved in the hearings had received campaign contributions from the United Auto Workers union, a major stockholder of Toyota's top U.S. rival, General Motors.[140]

US governors' letter to congressional members[edit]

On February 10, 2010, four bipartisan US governors from the states of Kentucky, Indiana, Mississippi, and Alabama which Toyota operates plants wrote a letter to Congress commenting about "the federal government's obvious conflict of interest because of its huge financial stake in some of its competitors," referring to Toyota as a "victim" of the media's "aggressive and questionable news coverage". The letter also noted there were "16.4 million recalls in the auto industry for 2009", "many as serious or more serious" than Toyota's recall.[141][142]


Toyota stopped producing vehicles on certain production lines for the week of February 1, 2010, to assess and coordinate activities. The North America vehicle production facilities affected were located in Cambridge and Woodstock, Ontario, Canada (where Corolla, Matrix, and RAV4 models are produced), Princeton, Indiana (Highlander and Sequoia), Georgetown, Kentucky (Avalon and Camry), and San Antonio, Texas (Tundra).[143] In addition to recalling vehicles, Toyota announced that it would install brake override systems on all Lexus, Scion and Toyota vehicles by the end of 2010.[62]

On February 3, 2010, United States Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood advised owners of vehicles affected by the recall to "stop driving" their vehicles until they can be fixed by a dealer. LaHood later retracted his statement, stating it was "obviously, a misstatement."[144] Secretary La Hood was criticized for making that statement by some media columnists, who suspected La Hood of having a conflict-of-interest due to the U.S. government's auto bailout partial ownership of Toyota's domestic rivals, General Motors and Chrysler.[16][145][146]

Economic impact[edit]

The recall came at a difficult time for Toyota, as it was struggling to emerge from the recession and had already suffered from a resultant decrease in sales,[147] and the low exchange rate from yen to US dollars.[148] On the day the recall was announced in the US, it was also announced that 750 jobs would be cut at Toyota's British plant at Burnaston, near Derby.[147] Also, it was estimated that each Toyota dealership in the US could lose between US$1.75 million to US$2 million a month in revenue, a total loss of US$2,470 million across the country from the entire incident.[8] Additionally, Toyota Motors as a whole announced that it could face losses totaling as much as US$2,000 million from lost output and sales worldwide.[72] Between 25 January and 29 January 2010 Toyota shares fell in value by 15%.[149]

According to analysts, Toyota owners (including owners of cars not recalled) may also be economically affected by the recall, as the damage to Toyota's reputation could negatively affect the resale value of used cars.[150][151]

Manufacturer changes[edit]

In addition to its recall efforts, a new global quality committee to coordinate defect analysis and future recall announcements was announced by Toyota in early 2010, along with a Swift Market Analysis Response Team ("SMART") in the U.S. to conduct on-site vehicle inspections, expanded Event Data Recorder usage and readers, third-party quality consultation, and increased driver safety education initiatives.[115][152] Industry analysts noted that the recall response was a challenge for The Toyota Way manufacturing philosophy, because the recalled parts were not due to factory errors or quality control problems, but rather to design issues leading to consumer complaints.[153] As a result, better communication of consumer issues with management was needed,[153] and so the global quality committee aimed to be more responsive to consumer concerns.[152]

Competitor reactions[edit]

One day after Toyota's announced sales suspension General Motors began offering a US$1,000 cash rebate targeted toward Toyota owners.[154] By February 1, 2010 Ford, Chrysler, and Hyundai were offering similar incentives.[155]

Release of Toyota driver jailed for fatal crash[edit]

In February 2010, a motion for retrial was submitted on behalf of a Minnesota man, Koua Fong Lee, who, in 2008, was sentenced to eight years in jail for rear-ending a car, killing three of the five occupants and injuring the other two. This happened in June 2006 when he was driving home from church with his family and exiting the highway. Koua insists that his 1996 Toyota Camry sped up to between 70 and 90 mph despite heavy braking. In May 2010, a vehicle inspector hired by attorneys for the convicted man reported finding problems with the car's accelerator system.[156][157][158]

At least two of the jurors from the 2008 trial questioned the guilty verdict,[159] and one of the injured survivors filed suit against Toyota and the local dealership that sold the car, stating that he believed Lee should be set free.[160][161] In June 2010, the Ramsey County Attorney and prosecutor Susan Gaertner opposed a new trial, stating that she saw no evidence that Koua's Camry experienced "sudden unintended acceleration", and a US District Court Judge was given until September 2010 to decide whether or not Lee should be re-tried.[162] In August 2010, the judge ruled that Lee would be re-tried, but the prosecutor declined to prosecute. Prior to the ruling, Gaertner offered Lee release with the condition that he would still have a felony conviction on his record, barring him from driving privileges for ten years, and that he would be jailed if arrested for anything else. Lee did not agree to such conditions.[163] Later that month, a Minnesota judge freed Lee from prison and Gaertner said she would immediately drop the charges.[164]

Media coverage and criticism[edit]

According to news analysis by the Project for Excellence in Journalism, which analyzed weekly output from newspapers (The New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, and others) as well as network television (ABC, CBS, NBC, and others), the Toyota recalls were the #5 most reported story on U.S. news for the week of January 25–31, 2010, at 4% of all coverage.[12] The following week of February 1–7, 2010, the story reached #2, at 11% of all news coverage.[165] On February 10, Toyota dealers in the five-state Southeast region pulled all advertising from ABC stations in protest of "excessive" reporting on the Toyota recalls.[166] On March 5, the Associated Press described "relentless media coverage" of the recalls from news outlets.[112]

During the height of the recall crisis, Toyota came in for extensive editorial criticism, with commentators including CounterPunch suggesting that emphasis on profits had resulted in manufacturing defects.[167] Editorials criticizing alleged disproportionate coverage of the recalls ran in Automotive News,[168]AutoWeek,[169]BusinessWeek,[170]Car and Driver,[17]Motor Trend,[18]Popular Mechanics,[171] and the National Post.[145][172] Such editorials commonly faulted media outlets for leaving out alternative explanations such as driver inattentiveness, driver skills, DUI, being on the cellphone, erroneous perceptions, reckless driving, or texting as causes of accidents.[18][169][173] In one cited example, the Los Angeles Times did not mention that an alleged Toyota runaway driver was indicted for vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence of marijuana.[174]

Odds from Car and Driver indicated that the alleged fatality risk was about 1 in 200,000 recalled Toyota vehicles, versus a 1 in 8,000 risk of a fatal car accident in any car in the U.S.,[17] while Consumer Reports stated a 1 in 10,000 chance of an unintended acceleration complaint out of 20 million Toyotas on the road.[16]

James Sikes alleged unintended acceleration case[

Updated, March 2, 2017 | We published an updated version of this list, “401 Prompts for Argumentative Writing,” as well as a companion piece, “650 Prompts for Narrative and Personal Writing.” We also now have a PDF of these 200 prompts.

Sign up for our free weekly newsletter and get five new Student Opinion questions delivered to you every week.

What issues do you care most about? What topics do you find yourself discussing most passionately, whether online, at the dinner table, in the classroom or with your friends?

Our annual Student Editorial Contest invites you to write an evidence-based persuasive piece on an issue that matters to you. To help jump-start your brainstorming, we have gathered a list of 200 writing prompts from our daily Student Opinion feature that invite you to take a stand.

Though you won’t be limited to these topics for the contest, you’ll see that our list touches on every aspect of modern life, from politics to sports, culture, education and technology. We hope the range inspires you, and we hope the fact that each question links to at least one related Times article gives you a starting point for finding evidence.

So skim the list below to think about the topic you’d most like to take on.

For more information, here are links to our spring 2014 editorial-writing contest, a list of winners from that contest and a related lesson plan on argumentative writing.


  1. Is Cheating Getting Worse?
  2. Should Students Be Able to Grade Their Teachers?
  3. Does Your School Hand Out Too Many A’s?
  4. Should Middle School Students Be Drug Tested?
  5. Should Reading and Math Be Taught in Gym Class Too?
  6. How Seriously Should We Take Standardized Tests?
  7. How Well Do You Think Standardized Tests Measure Your Abilities?
  8. Do You Spend Too Much Time Preparing for Standardized Tests?
  9. Should Schools Offer Cash Bonuses for Good Test Scores?
  10. Should We Rethink How Long Students Spend in High School?
  11. Do Schools Provide Students With Enough Opportunities to Be Creative?
  12. What Are You Really Learning at School?
  13. How Important Is Arts Education?
  14. Does Gym Help Students Perform Better in All Their Classes?
  15. Who Should Be Able to See Students’ Records?
  16. Are Children of Illegal Immigrants Entitled to a Public Education?
  17. What Is the Right Amount of Group Work in School?
  18. Is Your School Day Too Short?
  19. Do You Think a Longer School Calendar Is a Good Idea?
  20. Should the Dropout Age Be Raised?
  21. Should Students Be Allowed to Skip Senior Year of High School?
  22. How Does Your School Deal With Students Who Misbehave?
  23. Should Schools Be Allowed to Use Corporal Punishment?
  24. How Big a Problem Is Bullying or Cyberbullying in Your School or Community?
  25. How Should Schools Address Bullying?
  26. Should Schools Put Tracking Devices in Students’ ID Cards?
  27. What Do You Think of Grouping Students by Ability in Schools?
  28. Do We Need a New Way to Teach Math?
  29. Does Class Size Matter?
  30. Should All Students Get Equal Space in a Yearbook?
  31. Is Prom Worth It?
  32. How Important Are Parent-Teacher Conferences?
  33. Should All Children Be Able to Go to Preschool?
  34. Should Colleges Use Admissions Criteria Other Than SAT Scores and Grades?
  35. What Criteria Should Be Used in Awarding Scholarships for College?
  36. Do You Support Affirmative Action?
  37. Do College Rankings Matter?
  38. How Necessary Is a College Education?
  39. Should Engineers Pay Less for College Than English Majors?

  40. Technology and Social Media

  41. Are the Web Filters at Your School Too Restrictive?
  42. Does Technology Make Us More Alone?
  43. Are You Distracted by Technology?
  44. Do Apps Help You or Just Waste Your Time?
  45. Do You Spend Too Much Time on Smart Phones Playing ‘Stupid Games’?
  46. Has Facebook Lost Its Edge?
  47. Does Facebook Ever Make You Feel Bad?
  48. Should What You Say on Facebook Be Grounds for Getting Fired?
  49. Should People Be Allowed to Obscure Their Identities Online?
  50. What Should the Punishment Be for Acts of Cyberbullying?
  51. Is Online Learning as Good as Face-to-Face Learning?
  52. Do Your Teachers Use Technology Well?
  53. Should Tablet Computers Become the Primary Way Students Learn in Class?
  54. Can Cellphones Be Educational Tools?
  55. Should Computer Games Be Used for Classroom Instruction?
  56. How Young Is Too Young for an iPhone?
  57. Should Companies Collect Information About You?
  58. Would You Trade Your Paper Books for Digital Versions?
  59. Are Digital Photographs Too Plentiful to Be Meaningful?
  60. Do You Worry We Are Filming Too Much?
  61. Would You Want a Pair of Google’s Computer Glasses?
  62. How Would You Feel About a Computer Grading Your Essays?
  63. What Role Will Robots Play in Our Future?
  64. How Many Text Messages Are Too Many?
  65. How Much Do You Trust Online Reviews?

  66. Arts and Media: TV, Music, Video Games and Literature

  67. Why Do We Like to Watch Rich People on TV and in the Movies?
  68. Do TV Shows Like ‘16 and Pregnant’ Promote or Discourage Teenage Pregnancy?
  69. Does TV Capture the Diversity of America Yet?
  70. Is TV Too White?
  71. Is TV Stronger Than Ever, or Becoming Obsolete?
  72. Does Reality TV Promote Dangerous Stereotypes?
  73. What Current Musicians Do You Think Will Stand the Test of Time?
  74. What Artists or Bands of Today Are Destined for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?
  75. What Musician, Actor or Author Should Be a Superstar, but Hasn’t Quite Made It Yet?
  76. Will Musical Training Make You More Successful?
  77. Should Video Games Be Considered a Sport?
  78. Should Stores Sell Violent Video Games to Minors?
  79. Can a Video Game Be a Work of Art?
  80. Do Violent Video Games Make People More Violent in Real Life?
  81. When Should You Feel Guilty for Killing Zombies?
  82. What Game Would You Like to Redesign?
  83. What Were the Best Movies You Saw in the Past Year?
  84. To What Writer Would You Award a Prize?
  85. Do You Prefer Your Children’s Book Characters Obedient or Contrary?
  86. Where Is the Line Between Truth and Fiction?
  87. Can Graffiti Ever Be Considered Art?
  88. Do We Need Art in Our Lives?
  89. What Makes a Good Commercial?
  90. Why Did a Cheerios Ad Attract So Many Angry Comments Online?
  91. Does Pop Culture Deserve Serious Study?

  92. Gender Issues

  93. Do Parents Have Different Hopes and Standards for Their Sons Than for Their Daughters?
  94. Is School Designed More for Girls Than Boys?
  95. Is There Too Much Pressure on Girls to Have ‘Perfect’ Bodies?
  96. How Much Pressure Do Boys Face to Have the Perfect Body?
  97. Do Photoshopped Images Make You Feel Bad About Your Own Looks?
  98. Is It O.K. for Men and Boys to Comment on Women and Girls on the Street?
  99. What Should We Do to Fight Sexual Violence Against Young Women?
  100. How Do You Feel About Rihanna and Chris Brown Getting Back Together?
  101. Do Fraternities Promote Misogyny?
  102. Why Aren’t There More Girls in Leadership Roles?
  103. Why Aren’t More Girls Choosing to Pursue Careers in Math and Science?
  104. Should Women Be Allowed to Fight on the Front Lines Alongside Men?
  105. Do You Believe in Equal Rights for Women and Men?
  106. Are Women Better at Compromising and Collaborating?
  107. Do Boys Have Less Intense Friendships Than Girls?

  108. Sports and Athletics

  109. If Football Is So Dangerous to Players, Should We Be Watching It?
  110. Should Parents Let Their Children Play Football?
  111. Should College Football Players Get Paid?
  112. When Do Pranks Cross the Line to Become Bullying?
  113. Has Baseball Lost Its Cool?
  114. Are Some Youth Sports Too Intense?
  115. Is It Offensive for Sports Teams to Use Native American Names and Mascots?
  116. Where Should Colleges and Sports Teams Draw the Line in Selling Naming Rights?
  117. Should Colleges Fund Wellness Programs Instead of Sports?
  118. Is Cheerleading a Sport?
  119. How Big a Deal Is It That an N.B.A. Player Came Out as Gay?
  120. Should There Be Stricter Rules About How Coaches Treat Their Players?
  121. Should Athletes Who Dope Have to Forfeit Their Titles and Medals?
  122. Should Sports Betting Be Legal Everywhere?
  123. Should Home-Schoolers Be Allowed to Play Public School Sports?
  124. Would You Want a Bike Share Program for Your Community?

  125. Politics and the Legal System

  126. What Local Problems Do You Think Your Mayor Should Try to Solve?
  127. If You Were Governor of Your State, How Would You Spend a Budget Surplus?
  128. When Is the Use of Military Force Justified?
  129. What Is More Important: Our Privacy or National Security?
  130. Should the U.S. Be Spying on Its Friends?
  131. Do You Trust Your Government?
  132. What Do You Think of the Police Tactic of Stop-and-Frisk?
  133. Do Rich People Get Off Easier When They Break the Law?
  134. Should Rich People Have to Pay More Taxes?
  135. Do Laws That Ban Offensive Words Make the World a Better Place?
  136. Is It Principled, or Irresponsible, for Politicians to Threaten a Shutdown?
  137. Do Leaders Have Moral Obligations?
  138. Do Great Leaders Have to Be Outgoing?
  139. How Should We Prevent Future Mass Shootings?
  140. Should Guns Be Permitted on College Campuses?
  141. Would You Feel Safer With Armed Guards Patrolling Your School?
  142. What Is Your Relationship With Guns?
  143. Do You Support or Oppose the Death Penalty?
  144. When Should Juvenile Offenders Receive Life Sentences?

  145. Parenting and Childhood

  146. Do We Give Children Too Many Trophies?
  147. When Do You Become an Adult?
  148. When Should You Be Able to Buy Cigarettes, Drink Alcohol, Vote, Drive and Fight in Wars?
  149. Should the Morning-After Pill Be Sold Over the Counter to People Under 17?
  150. Should Birth Control Pills Be Available to Teenage Girls Without a Prescription?
  151. Is Modern Culture Ruining Childhood?
  152. Are Adults Hurting Young Children by Pushing Them to Achieve?
  153. How, and by Whom, Should Children Be Taught Appropriate Behavior?
  154. What Can Older People Learn From Your Generation?
  155. Do ‘Shame and Blame’ Work to Change Teenage Behavior?
  156. How Should Children Be Taught About Puberty and Sex?
  157. Is Dating a Thing of the Past?
  158. How Should Parents Handle a Bad Report Card?
  159. Should Children Be Allowed to Wear Whatever They Want?
  160. How Should Educators and Legislators Deal With Minors Who ‘Sext’?
  161. Do You Think Child Stars Have It Rough?

  162. Health and Nutrition

  163. Is Smoking Still a Problem Among Teenagers?
  164. Are Antismoking Ads Effective?
  165. Is Drinking and Driving Still a Problem for Teenagers?
  166. Do You Think a Healthier School Lunch Program Is a Lost Cause?
  167. How Concerned Are You About Where Your Food Comes From?
  168. Is It Ethical to Eat Meat?
  169. Do You Prefer Your Tacos ‘Authentic’ or ‘Appropriated’?
  170. Should the Government Limit the Size of Sugary Drinks?
  171. Should Marijuana Be Legal?
  172. Should Students Be Required to Take Drug Tests?

  173. Personal Character and Morality Questions

  174. Do Bystanders Have a Responsibility to Intervene When There is Trouble?
  175. Should You Care About the Health and Safety of Those Making Your Clothing?
  176. Can Money Buy You Happiness?
  177. Does Buying and Accumulating More and More Stuff Make Us Happier?
  178. Are We Losing the Art of Listening?
  179. Do People Complain Too Much?
  180. Can Kindness Become Cool?
  181. Which Is More Important: Talent or Hard Work?
  182. How Important Is Keeping Your Cool?
  183. When Should You Compromise?
  184. Is Your Generation More Self-Centered Than Earlier Generations?
  185. Can You Be Good Without God?
  186. Have Curse Words Become So Common They Have Lost Their Shock Value?
  187. What Words or Phrases Should Be Retired in 2014?
  188. What Words or Phrases Do You Think Are Overused?
  189. Should Couples Live Together Before Marriage?
  190. How Important Do You Think It Is to Marry Someone With the Same Religion?
  191. How Long Is It O.K. to Linger in a Cafe or Restaurant?
  192. Does Keeping a Messy Desk Make People More Creative?
  193. How Important Is Keeping a Clean House?

  194. Science

  195. Should Scientists Try to Help People Beat Old Age So We Can Live Longer Lives?
  196. Given Unlimited Resources, What Scientific or Medical Problem Would You Investigate?
  197. When Is It O.K. to Replace Human Limbs With Technology?
  198. Do You Think Life Exists — or Has Ever Existed — Somewhere Besides Earth?
  199. Should Fertilized Eggs Be Given Legal ‘Personhood’?
  200. How Concerned Are You About Climate Change?

  201. Other Questions

  202. Is It Wrong for a Newspaper to Publish a Front-Page Photo of a Man About to Die?
  203. What Causes Should Philanthropic Groups Finance?
  204. Should Charities Focus More on America?
  205. Should the Private Lives of Famous People Be Off Limits?
  206. Did a Newspaper Act Irresponsibly by Publishing the Addresses of Gun Owners?
  207. Would You Rather Work From Home or in an Office?
  208. What Time Should Black Friday Sales Start?
  209. Do You Shop at Locally Owned Businesses?
  210. How Much Does Your Neighborhood Define Who You Are?

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