WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Transportation Department may require automakers to install brake-override systems in all vehicles sold in the United States as a result of problems with unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said today.
“We're looking at the possibility of recommending the brake-override systems in all manufacturers' automobiles,” LaHood told the Senate Commerce Committee.
LaHood disclosed the Transportation Department deliberations in response to a question from committee chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., asking why the agency hadn't required installation of the systems on all cars sold in the United States.
Brake-override systems can be installed with an inexpensive software fix, LaHood said. These systems automatically cut engine power when the brake and gas pedals are both depressed.
"We think it is a good safety device," LaHood said.
In the federal rule-making process, an agency must propose a regulation, invite public comment and review the feedback it gets before issuing a final standard.
Toyota has said it plans to install brake-override systems on all 2011 models sold in North America, including hybrids. It also is adding these systems to seven existing models, Toyota Motor North America President Yoshimi Inaba said in prepared testimony today.
Beyond Toyota, large automakers currently offer a patchwork of brake override systems in the United States. According to Edmunds.com, these include:
• Chrysler: Available on all Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep vehicles.
• GM: Cadillac and Chevy offer it in one vehicle per brand.
• Ford: Will offer it in all 2011 model year vehicles.
• Hyundai: Just added them on their vehicles.
• Nissan: Available on all Nissan and Infiniti vehicles