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NHTSA proposes new brake throttle requirements

Friday, June 8, 2012 - 07:10
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The 2009 problem with Toyota sticky accelerator pedals seems a distant memory, as does the 8 million autos the company recalled and the nearly $33 million in civil penalties the company paid for dragging its feet on some of those recalls. But the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration (NHTSA) has not forgotten. It has issued a two-part proposed rule that establishes new requirements related to "unintended acceleration" (UA) for all new car manufacturers.

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One part consists of an expansion of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 124, Accelerator Control Systems, to include new brake throttle override (BTO) equipment and test requirements. They would be applicable to vehicles with 10,000 lbs. gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) or less and that have electronic throttle control (ETC). That new standard aims to prevent one kind of unintended acceleration, which is characterized by accelerator pedals that fail to return because they are stuck or trapped.

The second part of the proposed rule updates the throttle control disconnection test procedures in FMVSS 124. The NHTSA tried to do that in 2002, but got a lot of push back from auto manufacturers. The agency is taking a second shot at that now, with a revamped proposal, which may or may not pass muster with the industry.

The BTO requirements are new. The NHTSA says they should be no problem for car manufacturers to comply with, and cost little to boot, since based on compliance information that NHTSA receives from vehicle manufacturers annually, almost all model year 2012 light vehicles sold in the U.S. will have a BTO system.

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