A year after safety regulators closed an investigation into unintended acceleration by Toyota vehicles, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is proposing that all automakers be required to install brake override systems in all their cars and light trucks. Also known as a “smart pedals”, these systems recognize when the gas pedal and brake pedal are being pressed simultaneously and uses the car computer to slow it down. The technology was first used in the late 1980’s in the BMW 750, as a performance enhancement for heel-and-toe race-style driving , and every BMW built since 2001 have brake override. As of early 2010, car makers like Nissan, Volkswagen, and Chrysler, have been using brake-override systems in the majority of their vehicles. As automakers use more and more integrated electronic systems, it’s likely that more models will come standard with advanced safety systems like brake override.

Opposition to the proposal should be minimal. Most automobile manufacturers already have the technology standard on most of their vehicles, and the cost is minimal for those that don’t. If the proposal is voted in, automakers would have two years to comply.

During a routine quality inspection, automaker Chrysler, noticed that some vehicles had an improperly formed brake booster push rod retaining clip or no clip at all. Even though there have been no accidents or consumer complaints related to the problem, Chrysler feels there is potential for the push rod to separate from the brake pedal assembly resulting in loss of brakes. As a result, they will be recalling 2010 models of the Chrysler Sebring, Dodge Avenger, Dodge Nitro, Jeep Commander, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Jeep Liberty and 2009 and 2010 models of the Dodge Ram pickup. Owners will be notified this month if their vehicles are affected, and Chrysler will replace the faulty or missing clips free of charge.