NHTSA backtracks, won't mandate brake override systems

May 14, 2019

The NHTSA on Monday said that it doesn't plan to follow through with a promise it made seven years ago to make brake override systems mandatory on new cars, a move applauded by automakers that have already installed the feature. 

The Trump administration's decision to scrap the mandate proposed during Toyota's 2009 fiasco involving floor mats and unintended acceleration was first reported by Reuters

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After several high-profile incidents involving Toyota cars with floor mats that could dislodge and become wedged against accelerator pedals, the NHTSA proposed an accelerator override activated by pressing the brake pedal. A driver could apply the brakes and bring the vehicle to a halt if the accelerator was jammed for any reason. With both pedals pressed, the technology tells the vehicle software to cut power to the accelerator to stop the vehicle.

The reason behind the move to drop the regulation is simply because all automakers have voluntarily made the system standard on new vehicles today. Thus, the government agency said there's no need to enforce the regulation as it doesn't foresee any automaker removing the system in the future.

A spokesperson for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers trade group that represents many automakers praised the decision.

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One casualty of the proposed regulation's demise is the fact the NHTSA will not set required braking distances for the override. The systems will simply bring the car to a stop at a distance the automaker sees fit.

The NHTSA also proposed extending rules that require a vehicle to return to idle when a driver stops pressing the accelerator pedal. The rule would also apply in a "failsafe operation" to include electronic throttle control systems. The agency said a greater understanding of the electronic control systems is needed before making a decision on the regulation.

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