Hugh Pickens writes writes "The LA Times reports that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration wants to require automakers to include a brake-throttle override system in all their cars and light trucks to help drivers regain control when a vehicle accelerates suddenly when the throttle becomes stuck or jammed. "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," says 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." The move came after the fiery 2009 Lexus crash after a floor mat was improperly installed and may have trapped the accelerator pedal, causing the vehicle to race down California Highway 125 outside San Diego at more than 100 miles per hour 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 Toyota issued millions more recall notices to fix sticking gas pedals and other issues. Now Toyota has made a brake-override system standard implementing it in all vehicles the company sold by the end of 2010, and most other automakers offer such a system on many of their vehicles or are adding it. Other automakers would have about two years to comply with the proposal (PDF). "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," says NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. "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.""
All theoretical chemistry is really physics; and all theoretical chemists
-- Richard P. Feynman