In April 2012, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposed to add a “Brake-Throttle Override” requirement to existing safety standards. This proposed mandate applies to all cars and trucks up to 10,000 lbs. GVWR. A brake-throttle override reduces engine power when both the brake and gas pedal are depressed at the same time which allows the vehicle to slowly come to a stop. With this requirement, NHTSA hopes to reduce the risk of unintended acceleration as seen in 2009 with Toyota vehicles.
Brake-throttle override technology has been available for several years and has been used by General Motors, Nissan, and now, Toyota. Since 2009, most automakers have installed this technology to prevent unintended acceleration caused by pedal sticking or floormat entrapment. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood who has praised the proposal, had this to say:
America’s drivers should feel confident that anytime they get behind the wheel they can easily maintain control of their vehicles — especially in the event of an emergency. By updating our safety standards, we’re helping give drivers peace of mind that their brakes will work even if the gas pedal is stuck down while the driver is trying to brake.
NHTSA has considered requiring automakers to install brake-throttle override since 2010 when it launched its ten-month long investigation of the 2009-2010 Toyota unintended acceleration recall. Toyota recalled nearly eight million vehicles in 2009-2010 due to what was said to sticking pedals and floormat entrapments. In response to this massive recall, NHTSA enlisted NASA to determine whether the unintended acceleration was caused by electronic flaws. NASA didn’t find electrical issues to be the problem. NHTSA Administrator David Strickland explained the significance of the NASA and NHTSA studies in proposing the brake-throttle override requirement:
We learned as part of the comprehensive NASA and NHTSA studies of high-speed unintended acceleration that brake override systems could help drivers avoid crashes.
While NHTSA’s defect investigation program will continue to monitor and consider consumer complaints of any potential vehicle safety issues, this proposal is one way the agency is helping keep drivers safe and continuing to work to reduce the risk of injury from sticky pedals or pedal entrapment issues.
Once the brake-throttle override proposal is published in the Federal Register, members of the public will have 60 days to comment on the proposal. If you would like additional information on the brake-throttle proposal, you can contact Stephanie Stephens, a lawyer in our firm, at 800-898-2034 or by email at Stephanie.Stephens@beasleyallen.com.
Sources: Consumer Reports and NHTSA
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