Ghost in the machine?

When the Toyota Sudden Acceleration Syndrome circus was in full swing I had a strong sense of déjà vu. We have been here before. What’s ridiculous is that the obvious answer is staring us in the face and we don’t want to accept it.

All modern cars have brakes that have far more stopping power than their engines can deliver. If you jam both the accelerator and the brake your car will stop (although I don’t recommend actually doing it).

So there are really two explanations here:

1) Some mysterious fault causes the brakes to fail while the accelerator suddenly engages. This fault is both unreproducible under lab conditions and undetectable after the incident.

2) The drivers are stepping on the wrong pedal.

Why is this important to you? The government is talking about require “smart brakes” on all new cars that would cut off the accelerator when depressed.  Some cars apparently already have this feature.

But this won’t do anything to help the driver that is simply pressing the wrong pedal. If required for all cars, it will raise the price of your next car for a feature that you don’t really need.

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