Washington, D.C. – Sticking pedals and misplaced floor mats are the only known causes of unintended acceleration incidents, not electronic flaws, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. The agency has released the results from its ten-month study of potential electronic causes of unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched the study last spring at the request of Congress, enlisting NASA engineers with expertise in computer-controlled electronic systems, electromagnetic interference and software integrity to conduct new research into whether electronic systems or electromagnetic interference played a role in the incidents.
NASA engineers found no electronic flaws in Toyota vehicles capable of producing the large throttle openings required to create dangerous high-speed unintended acceleration incidents. “Sticking” accelerator pedals and a design flaw that enabled the pedal to become trapped by floor mats, two mechanical safety defects identified by NHTSA more than a year ago, remain the only known causes for these kinds of incidents. Toyota has recalled nearly eight million vehicles in the U.S. for these two defects.
“We enlisted the best and brightest engineers to study Toyota’s electronics systems and the verdict is in,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “There is no electronic-based cause for unintended high-speed acceleration in Toyotas.”
NHTSA said that it is considering taking several new actions as a result of the findings, including a proposal to require brake override systems, standardize keyless ignition system operation and require the installation of event data recorders in all passenger vehicles; begin broad research on the reliability and security of electronic control systems; and research the placement and design of accelerator and brake pedals, as well as driver usage, to determine whether design and placement can be improved to reduce pedal misapplication.