(WJLA) - It was a design flaw with deadly results - at least five Toyota drivers and passengers were killed due to a sudden acceleration problem.
On Wednesday while announcing the 1.2-billion settlement with Toyota, Attorney General Eric Holder insisted that Toyota knew it had a potentially fatal problem in the car's design, but deliberately hid the flaw to avoid bad publicity:
"The $1.2 billion payment represents the largest criminal penalty imposed on a car company in the history of the United States. This is appropriate, given the extent of the deception carried out by Toyota in this case."
Toyota isn't denying the government's charges, but says in a statement:
"We have made fundamental changes to become a more responsive and customer-focused organization, and we are committed to continued improvements."
These recent revelations are just the latest blow in driver confidence following General Motors' confession that it knew about deadly problems before publicly acknowledging ignition safety issues.
Woodbridge Resident Matthew says, "Companies already lie to you anyway, so when the truth comes out -- I mean -- it's always a big slap in the face. So you know, I hope the government continues to put the press on them."
Mom of two and North Carolina resident Lisa Ross says it is especially troubling given that these companies were considered to have good car safety records:
"You think you are in a safe vehicle, but you just don't know. I always want safety for my kids -- they's why I drive a big van and a truck. Safety is number one."