According to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the phenomenon known as, “Unintended Acceleration” of motor vehicles, “is solely caused by drivers hitting the wrong pedal and mechanical causes, such as pedal entrapment and bound Bowden cables.” While this idea is generally accepted today, William T. Swigert, the Senior Judge of the Florida’s Fifth Judicial Circuit, chose to disregard this conventional theory. On March 12, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers filed a “friend of the court brief” to head off a “potentially disastrous breach” (Safety and Research Strategies) in the auto industry’s carefully constructed theory around the causes of unintended acceleration (UA), all having to do with information Swigert obtained from a case which took place way back in 1980. According to Safety and Research Strategies, Inc.:
William T. Swigert, the Senior Judge of the Florida’s Fifth Judicial Circuit, had no respect for industry/government mythology. He set aside a jury verdict in favor of Ford Motor Company, after deciding that Ford’s victory in Stimpson v. Ford was won with “false and misleading” testimony and defrauded the federal government to boot, by claiming that it knew of no other cause of unintended acceleration than driver error and concealing years of testing that showed that electromagnetic interference was a frequent root cause of UA in Ford vehicles.
The reason behind this, “lack of respect” from Swigert stems from a case from 1980 in which Ford decided to keep information hidden about other causes of “UA” during that time in history:
Ford, which knew that interactions between the engine and cruise control electronics were contributing to sudden accelerations, elected to keep on the down-low its knowledge about how switches in the cruise control system were vulnerable at gear engagement to a current spike from electromagnetic interference that could bypass the control logic and induce the servo to pull the throttle wide open.