Depressing News About Runaway Cars

Accelerator Assembly, 2007 Toyota
Accelerator Assembly, 2007 Toyota

Today’s New York Times brought depressing news about runaway cars. The  Business section had an article about a proposed rule that would require “all new cars and trucks to have a brake-throttle override system, giving drivers the ability to step on the brake to stop the car if the accelerator pedal sticks or malfunctions.”  In other words, the regulators are trying to save lives.  That goal is the opposite of everything pfpfp stands for.

But there is a ray of hope.  A few paragraphs down, we find this:

“Brake override systems, part of the software in a vehicle’s on-board computercut the throttle when the brake pedal is pushed. The systems give the brakes precedence if a driver steps on both pedals simultaneously or if the accelerator is already depressed when the brake is applied.”

All the evidence points to driver failure in most of the runaway car cases.  Whenever investigators bother to look at the car’s on-board computer, they discover that most of the time the driver did not touch the brakes.  Instead, drivers press the accelerator harder as they mistakenly believe they are pressing the brake.  The brake override systems only work if someone actually presses the brake.  So, like most of the rules coming out of Washington, this new requirement will increase costs with negligible benefits.

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