Next came a request from the U.S. Congress to investigate Toyota's electronic throttle control system to find out if the problems could be caused by a computer error (acceleration occurs when an electronic signal is sent from the depressed pedal to a computer and then to the engine).
After a 10-month study, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reported that it found no problems with Toyota's electronic throttle control system, and that sudden acceleration issues not related to floor mats and sticky gas pedals appear to be the result of driver error.
Toyota developed a brake override system during the accelerator investigation, and it's now standard equipment on all new vehicles. Called Smart Stop Technology, the system reduces an engine's power when the brake pedal and gas pedal are depressed at the same time (under certain conditions).
How Smart Stop Technology Works
- Smart Stop steps in when the accelerator is depressed first and the brake pedal is pressed firmly for longer than one-half second when the vehicle is traveling more than five miles per hour.
- Smart Stop does not engage when the brake pedal is depressed before the accelerator pedal, a feature that allows a driver to keep a foot on the brake to prevent roll-back when pulling away from a stop on a hill.
Even though no problems were found with Toyota's electronic throttle control system, the manufacturer's initiative to enhance brake safety will be well worth the time and money invested in the project.