Trump administration drops plan to require vehicle brake-throttle override system

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration NHTSA

The Trump administration stated Monday it is going to drop rules initially proposed in 2012 that would have needed automakers to install brake-throttle override systems to avoid runaway vehicles.

The regulation was proposed in response to a range of unintended sudden acceleration incidents in Toyota vehicles by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). It would have needed that all motor vehicles’ brakes be able to overturn the accelerator pedal.

The proposal was intended at ensuring the driver could stop a vehicle by applying the brakes if a throttle pedal was trapped by a floor mat, shoe or other blockages.

In 2012, NHTSA stated some car manufacturers had not yet made the systems standard. On Monday NHTSA said all car manufacturers have voluntarily setup brake throttle override systems on all recent vehicles and the agency does not expect any of the car manufacturers to remove the system.

But in dropping the proposed regulation, NHTSA is not going to set braking distance requirements for the systems and other performance needs.

Gloria Bergquist, a representative for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a trade group representing General Motors, Toyota, Volkswagen among others, stated the rule was no longer needed.

“When the technology is in widespread use now, there is no need to continue a rulemaking,” Bergquist stated.

Brake throttle override systems work by the automobile software cutting power to the throttle if both of the pedals are depressed.

NHTSA had also proposed expanding its regulations to require vehicles to return to idle when a motorist stops pressing on the accelerator pedal or in reply to a “failsafe operation” to include electronic throttle control systems.

On Monday, NHTSA stated a “broader understanding of safe design of vehicle electronic control systems is required to make an informed decision on regulating return-to-idle.”

It stated there were significant challenges in designing objective tests for the operation of brake throttle override systems.

The agency in 2012 mentioned the August 2009 sudden acceleration crash that killed four individuals when a California Highway Patrol officer was driving a loaner Lexus ES350 that had the inappropriate floor mat installed.

Toyota recalled over 10 million vehicles internationally due to unintended acceleration issues in 2009 and 2010. Several government reviews discovered no evidence that electronic glitches were to blame for unintended acceleration — but blamed the concerns on mechanical interference such as floor mats.

In 2014, Toyota paid a $1.2 billion Justice Department fine following its admission that it misled U.S. consumers by concealing and making misleading statements regarding the extent of sudden acceleration problems.

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