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NHTSA won't mandate a brake-throttle override, report says

The reason it won't require manufacturers to fit one is that they all already do.

Toyota Recalls 2010 Prius In U.S. and Japan For Brake Problems
NHTSA has decided not to mandate that manufacturers include a brake-throttle override in their vehicles because they all already do.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Not too long after widely publicized unintended acceleration of some Toyota vehicles in the late 2000s and early teens, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) started working on a mandate that drivers be able to override their throttle pedal with their brake pedal.

Now, some eight years after NHTSA rendered its decision on what was to blame for sudden unintended acceleration, the organization has announced that it no longer needs to mandate a brake-throttle override because it has already became commonplace, according to a report by Reuters Monday.

In 2012, NHTSA found that not all manufacturers had committed to making a brake-throttle override standard on their models, but upon revisiting the subject in 2019, the Trump administration discovered that all automakers doing business in the US now feature the technology as standard.

"NHTSA is withdrawing a notice of proposed rule-making published in 2012 that would have established a new mandate for brake throttle override systems and modified requirements for electronic throttle controls systems," a NHTSA representative told Roadshow. "In making this decision, NHTSA considered public comments received in response to the proposed rule, including that brake throttle override is now standard on 100% of new passenger vehicles and light trucks. While NHTSA has determined that regulatory action is not needed at this time, the agency will continue to focus on the safety of vehicles and the traveling public."

NHTSA's decision has other implications, including the fact that because there is no mandate, the administration won't be setting any performance requirements for the systems. This means that as long as the brake pedal cuts power to the throttle when both are pressed simultaneously, NHTSA is A-OK with the system.

As part of the original plan to institute a mandate, NHTSA also considered adding a requirement that the vehicle's engine return to idle speed when the driver stopped pressing the accelerator, but that is still on the table pending further research, according to Reuters' report.

Originally published May 13.
Update, May 14: Adds comment from NHTSA.