NHTSA's Proposed Brake Override System: A Good Idea?
Yes, but for all the wrong reasons.
The proposal by the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is a result of a highly publicized 2009 crash of a Lexus ES 350 and a subsequent flood of complaints about incidents of unintended acceleration in Toyota and Lexus vehicles.
Investigators believe the Lexus crash occurred after a floor mat was improperly installed and may have trapped the accelerator pedal, causing the vehicle to race down California Highway 125 in suburban San Diego at more than 100 mph before crashing and bursting into flames, killing an off-duty California Highway Patrol officer and three members of his family.
That crash led to a recall of 3.8 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles to fix the floor-mat problem and, after a Los Angeles Times series of stories on sudden unintended acceleration, subsequent recalls of millions more of the automaker’s car to fix sticking gas pedals. Lexus is a Toyota brand.
Safety officials believe brake-override systems -- in which the application of the brake pedal by the driver would instantly disengage a stuck throttle -- can prevent such crashes.
"America’s drivers should feel confident that any time they get behind the wheel they can easily maintain control of their vehicles — especially in the event of an emergency,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “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.”
"This technology is typically raised as a solution to the issue of unintended acceleration. The problem is that the evidence shows this is usually a driver-error issue. In other words, the gas is being applied, not the brakes," said Jeremy Anwyl, vice chairman of auto information company Edmunds.com.
- Shut the car off. Hold the start-stop button, turn the key, whatever. It will stop moving. This is how cars work. Even if the engine is in gear and the gas is floored, your car will stop running. You might lose power-assisted steering and brakes, but you will still have braking power, and you will still be able to steer the car, and you won't be speeding toward the horizon any more.
- Move the shift lever to neutral. Even if the throttle is floored, your car will shift from a drive gear into a position where the engine is no longer connected to the rear wheels. This applies to every car on the planet, no matter what type of transmission it uses.
- Hit the brakes. Even if you don't have a throttle override, your car will stop. By and large, every car in production has more brake power than engine power. In other words, even a floored engine and a speeding car can be brought to a halt by a nailed brake pedal. This has been proven over and over again. It's not that difficult.
"We should not design cars to suit the needs of idiots, and if idiots extinguish themselves through their own idiocy, then we should applaud this as evidence of the great symmetry of God's plan."
-- David E. Davis, Jr., automotive journalist and founding editor, Automobile Magazine.
No one wants to see others die (no one educated and lacking ignorance that is) but if you are so scatter brained that you cannot think of way to control your car in emergency situations as simple as during an unintended acceleration, you should not be driving.
Maybe the answer is to put that question on your learners permit test instead of adding mechanisms to all cars??? Can't answer the question, you fail the test.
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