Sevierville woman who experienced acceleration issues happy with

Sevierville woman who experienced acceleration issues happy with Toyota settlement

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Rhonda Smith testified about sudden acceleration to Congress. Rhonda Smith testified about sudden acceleration to Congress.
Smith said she pressed the brake with both feet, but it continued to accelerate. Smith said she pressed the brake with both feet, but it continued to accelerate.
"It still comes around to me to this day," she said. "I'm thankful, very thankful to be here." "It still comes around to me to this day," she said. "I'm thankful, very thankful to be here."

By DON DARE
6 On Your Side Consumer Investigator

SEVIERVILLE (WATE) - On Thursday, Tennessee joined several states in a settlement agreement with Toyota after claims some vehicles suddenly accelerated on their own.

One of the people at the center of the Toyota story has been Rhonda Smith of Sevierville.

It was three years ago that Toyota announced the recall of more than eight million vehicles to address safety problems of accelerator pedals that could get stuck in floor mats.

Now, three years later, Tennessee joins 28 other states in a multi-million dollar agreement as part of a settlement related to those safety issues.
 
"At the very beginning, they weren't listening to people," Smith recalled.

She never considered herself a crusader. But the retired state social worker was one of those who led the fight in resolving the unintended acceleration allegations against Toyota.

"Actually Congress, Congress had to do something about it," she said.

Three years ago, Smith went to Washington D.C. and testified before Congress relating her story of terror along I-40.

In the spring of 2007, Smith told 6 On Your Side how her new Lexus ES 350 suddenly accelerated on October 12, 2006 while merging onto I-40 in Sevierville, when all of a sudden her car accelerated.

Smith said she had both feet on the brake and traveled miles before eventually slowing down.

"It still comes around to me to this day," she said. "I'm thankful, very thankful to be here."

In 2007, Toyota and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration told the Smiths their improperly-placed floor mat was to blame.

But it wasn't until August of 2009 when the deaths of a California Highway Patrolman and his family focused the attention on the problem of unintended sudden acceleration in Toyota vehicle

"It's still hard to tell the story. But I'll continue to do it if it helps somebody, I'll continue to do it," she said.

While some people have reached settlements with Toyota over safety issues, Smith hasn't collected a dime, nor does she intend to seek any money.

"No, I have no reason. I have not filed suit for anything. I have never asked for money for anything," Smith said.

Smith will not be part of this new settlement, either. That money will go to resolve consumer protection claims.

Rhonda never drove her Lexus again. She traded it back to Toyota and, from what she tells us, Toyota eventually took it apart to study it.

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