The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is proposing a mandate for a system that would enable a driver to override the throttle in the event of unintended acceleration.
NHTSA says such a system could be added without much cost or difficulty because most 2012 model vehicles already will have brake-throttle overrides.
But it still likely would cost American consumers millions of dollars.
NHTSA has said more than 100 people have been killed by unintended acceleration, but to the best of my knowledge, there have been few cases in which a flaw in the vehicle -- not driver error -- was proved to have caused mortal injury to vehicle occupants.
But NHTSA wants a brake-override device in all cars -- forever. Each year, consumers would be forced to pay for this unnecessary device a million times over.
After the Audi 5000 scare in the 1980s, automakers began voluntarily installing a brake shift interlock that requires the driver's foot to be on the brake before the vehicle can be shifted into gear. That was to make sure that a problem that didn't happen with Audi would not happen again. Consumers are still paying for a device to cure an ailment that never existed.
The CBS "60 Minutes" story about the car was completely wrong, but the program and the network never admitted their mistake or ran a retraction. Today consumers in America are still paying for the interlock that was never needed. The story almost killed Audi in America.
Now NHTSA wants to do it again. The agency wants to cure a problem that doesn't exist or at least is smaller than claimed.
Someone should stand up and say: "Enough." How can the U.S. government mandate a fix for a defect that probably never existed -- or, if it did, affected few vehicle occupants?
It's also high time someone figure out the value of a human life. Before requiring automakers to spend millions on a device with marginal value, someone should ask how many more lives could be saved if those millions were spent on something more important.
Somehow, this one got by folks who should have more sense. It would be a shame to impose one more mandate with a hidden cost that the consumer has to pay for forever.
NHTSA officials should take a second look at the proposed mandate. And while they're at it, maybe they also should eliminate the brake shift interlock.
How many NHTSA mandates once imposed have ever been eliminated for being unnecessary?