The federal government is likely to order brake-override systems on all light vehicles because of Toyota’s unintended-acceleration problems. Some observers believe General Motors Co. and Honda Motor Co. probably will feel the biggest impact. Currently, GM and Honda are the only major automakers without brake-override systems in most vehicles and these companies do not have firm plans to install the systems on a widespread basis.
The two companies would have to develop software to tell engines to ignore acceleration commands if the brake pedal is depressed. The U.S. Department of Transportation is considering a proposal to require the systems on all new vehicles. Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, said legislation may be introduced in Congress with a brake-override requirement.
Electronic brake-override systems automatically cut engine power when the gas and brake pedals are both depressed. Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, believes the government would have to address when the rule should go into effect and what performance standard to establish. One issue, for example, will be whether to allow half a second, a second or two seconds to elapse between the activation of both the gas and brake pedals and the slowing of the engine, according to Mr. Ditlow.
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