Safe by definition: Smart throttle technology

Consumer Reports News: March 08, 2010 01:47 PM

What it is: Smart throttle technology is a safety feature that's built into some vehicles. It's designed to stop a car when both the gas pedal and the brake pedal are activated. It’s main purpose is to allow drivers to stop vehicles in which the accelerator has become stuck open for some reason. Smart throttle technology is already built into many European cars and trucks, as well as some Japanese and U.S. vehicle brands.
Why it's news: In the wake of growing concerns about sudden acceleration problems in Toyotas, both Congress and the Obama Administration are mulling new requirements that all new cars be equipped with smart throttle technology. Toyota has argued that sudden acceleration problems in its vehicles were caused by floor mats or sticking accelerator pedals, but they have pledged to include the brake override technology (their term for "smart throttle") in all of its future cars.

Consumer Reports believes that all cars should be engineered such that a sustained press of the brake pedal would allow the car to stop in a reasonable distance, even if the throttle is wide open – whatever the cause. While the brakes on most vehicles can stop a speeding vehicle eventually, it can take up to 1,000 feet to do so. That's too long. One method to reduce stopping distances is smart throttle technology. Other methods to limit power might be acceptable too as long as the vehicle can stop within a short, predetermined distance.

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