If a car is accelerating for no good reason, most drivers have the same natural reaction -- step on the brake. It's not a bad instinct, and programmers have used it to create brake override systems. The most obvious benefit of brake override systems is increased safety. Whether the failure is human or electrical, the system can act as a failsafe and reduce the chance of a high-speed crash.
Nick Cappa at Chrysler says the computer is trying to figure out what the driver is trying to do, and whether that's different from what the driver is really doing. If the sensors detect a disconnect between intent and what's really going on, like the car accelerating while the driver is braking, the computer engages the brake override to decelerate the vehicle. More and more cars are relying on an electronic throttle to adjust the car's speed, so the addition of an electronic system that can correct any problems with the throttle is a plus.
You can also get a sense of the benefits of brake override systems by looking at cars that don't have them. Take the case of Toyota's October 2009 recall involving uncontrolled acceleration of its vehicles. By early 2010, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had received 43 complaints of fatal accidents involving Toyotas since 2000. These accidents resulted in 52 deaths and 38 injuries, which lawmakers believed could have been avoided if the cars had a brake override system, according to a New York Times story.
Since brake override systems are a potential lifesaver, lawmakers are looking at how best to regulate them. Read on to find out which vehicles are using brake override technology.