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Following the rash of alleged self-accelerating cars, U.S. regulators are calling for all automakers to make throttle override mechanisms standard equipment in every light vehicle.
This issue came to light after Toyota’s unintended acceleration case, which spurred NHTSA to begin looking into override technology in 2010.
Essentially, the required system would ensure that the brake will overpower the gas pedal when the two are applied simultaneously and bring the car to a stop. A 60-day comment period will be held to gauge public reaction, at the end of which NHTSA will review the proposal again.
The new mechanisms will help drivers feel safer behind the wheel, which is of course one of consumers top concerns. ”America’s drivers should feel confident that anytime they get behind the wheel they can easily maintain control of their vehicles — especially in the event of an emergency,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
Although many automakers have already taken a preemptive step and made this type of system available, the law would make it mandatory.
“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,” LaHood said.
You can see the full NHTSA proposal here.
Toyota hasn’t had the best run of luck in the past little while, but the automaker may be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. The Japanese automaker is seeing a surge in popularity, just two days after NASA engineers cleared the company of electronic flaws in its throttle control system.
It’s been a long 10-month investigation into causes of unintended acceleration in Toyota Motor Corp., and the verdict is in – NASA reports that the vehicles were free of electronic problems. The culprits, they stated, were due to floormat interference and sticky gas pedals, as well as drivers mistaking the accelerator for the brake.
But not everybody is convinced with the findings. Safety advocates and plaintiff attorneys are calling the study inconclusive and plan to continue to sue Toyota over unintended acceleration. Regardless, when NASA gave Toyota the big thumbs up, the automaker saw a big lift in the public’s esteem of the brand. Once Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s announced that Toyota vehicles “are safe to drive,” the company’s popularity started to rise.
Does the NASA report make you feel any safer driving a Toyota? Are you more or less likely to buy a Toyota vehicle now that the Transportation Secretary has announced that they are safe to drive? Let us know in the comment section below.
The government-run tests were the first that employed a “female” crash-test dummy, and a direct crash into a pole. The vehicles were rated from 1 to 5 stars, which are based on a weighted average of risk of injury in the front and side crashes and rollover resistance compared to other vehicles. The only vehicles to earn 5 stars were Hyundai and BMW, and were among the first 34 vehicles tested this new way.
These new tests were put in place in order to give shoppers more information, since high scores had become so common.”More stars equal safer cars,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Through new tests, better crash data and higher standards, we are making the safety ratings tougher and more meaningful for consumers.”
Most surprising were the results for the 2011 Toyota Camry, the best-selling car in the U.S. that got just 3 stars overall (the 2010 model, which was nearly identical, got top scores last year). The only other car to get a 3-star rating was the Camry Hybrid.
Placing at the bottom was the 2011 Nissan Versa, which was also the only vehicle to score just 2 stars overall. The blame of this poor score, says Nissan, is the Versa’s old design, and the company is working on ways to improve the car’s crash-test scores without a full redesign. The automaker believes that the 2011 Juke, which is based on the Versa platform, should score higher as it’s a newer iteration.
As for the rest of the vehicles, the remaining 2011 vehicles that were tested ranked with 4 stars overall. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is planning on testing 22 more 2011 models.
See after the jump for the full list of models tested under the new 2011 rules: