NHTSA find no electronic flaws in Toyota vehicles

  • 14-Feb-2011 04:29 EST

The U.S. Department of Transportation released results from an unprecedented 10-month study of unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles. The NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) launched the study last spring at the request of Congress and enlisted NASA engineers to conduct new research into whether electronic systems or electromagnetic interference played a role in incidents of unintended acceleration. NASA engineers found no electronic flaws in Toyota vehicles capable of producing the large throttle openings that create dangerous high-speed unintended acceleration incidents. The two mechanical safety defects NHTSA identified more than a year ago—“sticking” accelerator pedals and a design flaw that enabled accelerator pedals to become trapped by floor mats—remain the only known causes for these unintended acceleration incidents. Toyota has recalled nearly 8 million vehicles in the U.S for these two defects. In conducting their report, NASA engineers evaluated the electronic circuitry in Toyota vehicles and analyzed more than 280,000 lines of software code for any potential flaws that could initiate an unintended acceleration incident. NHTSA is researching whether better placement and design of accelerator and brake pedals can reduce pedal misapplication. NHTSA’s forthcoming rulemaking to require brake override systems in all passenger vehicles will ensure that braking takes precedence over the accelerator pedal in emergency situations. The ongoing National Academy of Sciences study, which will examine unintended acceleration and electronic vehicle controls across the entire automotive industry, will also make recommendations to NHTSA. The NAS study was launched in spring 2010 alongside the NHTSA-NASA investigation and will be finalized later in 2011.

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