U.S. proposes brake override for all passenger autos

Thu Apr 12, 2012 4:05pm EDT
 
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(Reuters) - U.S. auto safety regulators on Thursday announced a proposal that would require brake override systems on all new passenger cars and trucks, likely by the 2015 model year.

The U.S. Department of Transportation safety regulation arm in a 98-page proposal said costs to auto manufacturers are expected to be "close to zero" because most automakers already install brake override systems that can stop a vehicle if the accelerator pedal gets stuck open.

"Almost all" 2012 model year automobiles sold in the United States are equipped with brake-throttle override systems, according to a notice on the proposed rule change by the DOT's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

If the proposed rule passes a 60-day comment period and becomes a final rule by October 1, the brake-throttle override requirement would go into effect on September 1, 2014, NHTSA said.

"The NHTSA proposal aims to minimize the risk that drivers will lose control of their vehicles as a result of either accelerator control system disconnections or accelerator pedal sticking or floor mat entrapment," said a NHTSA press statement.

DOT Secretary Ray LaHood said in the same statement, "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."

Jeremy Anwyl, vice chairman of autos and sales analyst Edmunds.com, was critical of the proposed rule.

"There's the risk that an override system could provide a false sense of security for drivers, especially in cases where a driver accidentally applies the wrong pedal, and an override will do nothing to solve the problem," said Anwyl.

"While this mandate might help prevent some other causes of sudden unintended acceleration, a brake override system could impact everyday drivability and generate other sorts of customer complaints if not executed properly," he said.   Continued...