In the wake of the deadly 2009 San Diego, California car crash that killed
four people because of Lexus sudden unintended acceleration, the US Department
of Transportation is proposing that current safety standards be updated
and a Break-Throttle Override’ requirement implemented so that drivers
are better able to stop a motor vehicle should the accelerator and brakes
pedals end up pressed down simultaneously by letting the motorist still
have control of the brakes. Research by the National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration found that such changes would decrease the chances of a
vehicle going into sudden unintended acceleration and prevent motor vehicle
collisions that are caused by a trapped or stuck accelerator pedal.
If approved, auto manufacturers would have approximately two years to
come into compliance with the new standard. The proposal would update
current throttle control disconnection test procedures for passenger vehicles,
buses, and trucks. Vehicles with a GVW of 10,000 lbs. or under would be
required to include Brake-Throttle Override (BTO) system tasked with making
sure the vehicle stops if the accelerator and brake pedals are applied
at the same time.
Following the Lexus sudden unintended acceleration crash over 2 ½
years ago that killed four family members, Toyota proceeded to recall
millions of vehicles over ill-fitting floor mats that might entrap an
accelerator pedal, sticky gas pedals, and other safety issues linked to
its vehicles suddenly speeding up and out of the driver’s control.
Numerous auto products liability and wrongful death claims were also filed
following reports of hundreds of related injuries and deaths. At least
one person was released from prison after it was discovered that Toyota
sudden unintended acceleration and not driver negligence caused the fatal
car accident he was involved in.
Toyota has since implemented a brake-override system standard, and a lot
of other car manufacturers either already have such a system in place
or are in the process of implementing one for their vehicles. Despite
these efforts, federal transportation safety officials believe a new standard
would ensure that every light truck and car sold in the US has this type
of brake system in place.
Our auto products liability law firm represents clients with Lexus/Toyota
sudden unintended acceleration claims in the US. We applaud the Department
of Transportation’s efforts to eliminate two of the main causes
of SUA. However, it also has become apparent that sticky gas pedals and
ill-fitting floor mats are not the only reason why a vehicle might suddenly
accelerate. Of the more than 2,000 reports of Lexus and Toyota vehicles
abruptly speeding up and out of control, over half of the incidents involved
Toyota vehicles not included on the manufacturer’s recall list.
USDOT Proposes Updated Safety Standard to Prioritize Braking Control,
Reduce Risk of High-Speed Unintended Acceleration for Nation’s Cars,
NHTSA, April 12, 2012
Federal regulators want brake-override systems in all cars, Los Angeles
Times, April 13, 2012