By Jennifer Geiger on May 3, 2012
Unintended acceleration isn't just a Toyota problem. Hyundai is taking steps to ensure its cars are safeguarded from the issue by making brake override systems standard on all new models. Two years ago, the automaker made the system standard on half its lineup.
The fail-safe technology means that drivers can control a vehicle's speed and stop it in the event of an unintended-acceleration incident, Hyundai said. If sensors recognize that the gas and brake pedals are pressed at the same time, the brake action takes precedence to safely slow the car down. Starting this month, all of Hyundai's vehicles will have the system.
Although this is an uncommon problem, there is still the remote possibility that electric throttle control systems can malfunction and cause unintended acceleration, Hyundai said.
"With Hyundai's brake pedal throttle override capability, any brake pedal input by the driver, even with a runaway throttle condition, completely overrides any throttle malfunction," Robert Babcock, director of certification and compliance affairs for Hyundai's technical center, said in a statement. "It is no longer possible to have increasing engine power once the brake pedal is depressed by the driver. This adds a reassuring, incremental safeguard of control for Hyundai drivers."
Many automakers already use similar systems. BMW has been including it as standard equipment for years, and all Chrysler products since 2003 have brake override systems in place. All model-year 2011 and newer Toyotas have it, as well as model-year 2012 GM and Mazda vehicles, for example. More automakers will likely follow suit, especially if the government gets its way. Last month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began reviewing a proposal to mandate brake override systems on all new vehicles.
Assistant Managing Editor Jennifer Geiger is a reviewer, car-seat technician and mom of three. She wears a lot of hats, many of them while driving a minivan. Email Jennifer