U.S. Transportation Secretary: I Told My Daughter to Buy Japanese Car

By Penny Starr | February 9, 2011 | 2:58 PM EST

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)

(CNSNews.com) – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said today that he told his daughter to buy a Japanese car--a Toyota Sienna--and that she did so.

LaHood's comment came as he announced the results of a 10-month long Department of Transportation study that was undertaken to determine whether electronic systems could have been responsible for reports of sudden acceleration in Toyota vehicles. The study determined that this was not the case.

LaHood's statement that he told his daughter to buy a Japanese car also came less than two months after he announced a "Buy America" campaign at the Department of Transportation (DOT).

“I told my daughter that she should buy the Toyota Sienna, which she did,” LaHood said in announcing the results of DOT's study. “So I think that illustrates that we feel that Toyota vehicles are safe to drive.”

In 2009 and 2010, after a number of drivers reported incidents of sudden acceleration in Toyotas, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found two "safety defects" in Toyota vehicles, and Toyota recalled nearly 8 million vehicles. "The two mechanical safety defects identified by NHTSA more than a year ago--'sticking' accelerator pedals and a design flaw that enabled accelerator pedals to become trapped by floor mats--remain the only known causes for these kinds of unsafe unintended acceleration incidents,"  the DOT said in a press release Tuesday. "Toyota has recalled nearly 8 million vehicles in the United States for these two defects."

LaHood called the new study “one of the most exhaustive, thorough, and intensive research efforts ever taken.” The report concluded that electronic problems did not lead to unintended gas pedal acceleration.

LaHood's disclosure about the advice he gave his daughter comes after his Dec. 11 announcement that the Department of Transportation (DOT) was launching a “Buy America” Web site.

“The Obama Administration is making historic investments in America’s infrastructure--investments that lay the foundation for our long-term economic health while creating good-paying jobs right now,” LaHood said when he announced the Web site.  “We’re also committed to maximizing the economic benefits of these infrastructure investments through Buy America provisions that keep American companies healthy and families working.”

The DOT press release announcing the "Buy America" campaign says: “Buy America provisions ensure that transportation infrastructure projects are built with American-made products. Through Buy America, the Department of Transportation supports an entire supply chain of American companies and their employees, maximizing the economic benefit of infrastructure investments.”

DOT said the Web site “will help American businesses reap the full benefits of the Obama administration’s historic investments in transportation infrastructure.”

The 2011 Toyota Sienna van retails for about $30,000.