Written by Robin Brown ▼

Folly Friday: Toyota Total Recall, drivers outraged over fines, rough justice

Strange times - Toyota faces media frenzy, drivers who were in the wrong in the first place get handed cash by debt-ridden councils, Total Recall car design and how to write an 'outraged motorist fine' story.

Toyota keeps calm while other lose heads

Unless you've been living up a mountain (Kitztsteinhorn in Austria in my case) you won't have been able to avoid the proclamations of reasonably-priced Japanese manufacturer armageddon over the last week.

At least that's how the media has run with Toyota's admittedly-massive recall of models that may have defects on their accelerator pedals.

What isn't clear is how aware of this Toyota has been over the last year, and whether it was less than forthcoming about the potential braking problem affecting third-generation Prius models when it became aware of them last year.

But it's always been easy to go with more sensational aspects of a story. The reality of the matter is that, out of a global recall of 8m vehicles, Toyota has yet to learn of one incident in Europe related to the issue.

Similarly, there have been no problems relating to the Prius' braking issue in Europe.

The advice issued by Toyota in case of a runaway car is straightforward and pretty obvious: brake. De-clutch. Turn off the engine. If you suspect a fault is developing take your car to a Toyota dealership.

But the Toyota issue is one that has legs. A manufacturer that built its reputation on quality at an affordable price. Over-expansion, a family dynasty, the Prius, the screaming phone call from a Lexus owner. It almost writes itself.

There's actually an article absurdly suggesting Toyota's brand has been so badly affected by the recall that it will be forced to change its name. Hysteria breeds hysteria.

In comparison, Toyota GB's response has been measured, calm and responsible. And with a bit of level-headed common sense the company and the buyers of its cars can emerge on the other side unscathed.

Keep calm and carry on indeed.

Toyota explains safety recall

• Sniff Petrol's take on the recall

• Clever bit of link-bait from the Beeb - How do you stop a car with a jammed accelerator?

• Toyota aren't alone in recalling vehicles

BBC bravely forces cash-strapped councils to repay money over stupid technicality

Two ways of looking at this, admittedly. The first is that the councils in question should have paid better attention to what they were doing, and any suggestion of councils attempting to make cash from issuing tickets is clearly beyond the pale.

But the second is that five London councils now face hefty repayments over what is almost the very definition of a legal technicality.

The councils didn't properly request permission to designate 346 diplomatic parking bays across the capital, and will now have to repay anyone who got ticketed for parking in one over the last six years, or potentially tens of millions if a related test case is successful.

Why were these people parking in diplomatic parking bays in the first place? Where will those millions of quids be diverted from to pay back people who shouldn't have been parking in the wrongly-designated bays in the first place? How much time and effort will be spent returning that cash?

Another victory for freedom and justice!

More council stupidity

Councils have forked out hundreds of thousand to replace signs that features typos, misspellings or punctuation error, according to Exchange and Mart

Missing apostrophes and typos are the most common errors, with every sign costing a hundred quid or so.

Sadly, none of the errors are funny enough to report, and none accidentally read 'I am not in the office at the moment. Please send any work to be translated' in Welsh.

It's almost enough to make one wonder how much time councils have to spend replying to pointless Freedom of Information requests from parking vigilantes and motoring magazines.

Justice! Righteousness! Punctuation!

Total Recall's futuristic cars

Paul Verhoeven's Total Recall is a guilty pleasure based on an excellent short story by Philip K. Dick. In all honesty it's crap but it does feature some stunning sets and a fairly convincing evocation of a near-future Earth and colonised Mars.

Among the more interesting design aspects are the film's myriad vehicles, quite clearly designed to be futuristic in a decidedly 80s idiom.

There's a nice write-up from one of the designers on the film, and though there's not much about the cars themselves there's some great shots. Head over to Hemmings for more.

How to report 'outraged driver stories'

• Identify driver fined for some unlikely behaviour. Behaviour can include illegal activities behind wheel, unwise behaviour behind wheel or unorthodox behaviour while behind wheel.

• Gloss over fact driver probably should not have been indulging in said act in first place

• Picture driver looking angry and/or bewildered while holding up penalty notice

• Include quotes from driver describing disbelief and/or outage.

• More quotes from driver on how s/he intends to clear name

• Desultory final quote from CPS or police force in question

Congratulations, you're now a regional newspaper reporter. Here's some that other people did earlier.

Blowing nose


Being too slow

Eating sandwich – this one is MT's favourite. It's the picture that does it.

Eating ice cream

Eating apple

Eating crisps


Ill Wind

Two out of five people would be put off buying the Renault Wind because of its name, according to our poll on the subject.

A stinker, or just hot air? YOU DECIDE!

Would you buy a car called Wind?(survey)

A rare well-placed contextual ad