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  • InsIghts from UnIntended AccelerAtIon

    Transportation Research Board SPECIAL REPORT 308

    SPECIAL REPO

    RT 308

    the safety Promise and challenge

    of Automotive electronics

    the safety Prom

    ise and

    challenge

    of Autom

    otive electronics

    the safety challenge and Promise of Automotive electronicsInsIghts from UnIntended AccelerAtIon

    during 2009 and 2010, the national media reported drivers claims that their cars had accelerated unintentionally; some blamed faulty vehicle electronics. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) asked the National Research Council to convene an expert committee to review investigations of unintended acceleration and to recommend ways to strengthen NHTSAs safety oversight of automotive electronics systems.

    This report examines the safety agencys investigations of unintended acceleration over the past 25 years, including recent investigations of complaints by drivers of vehicles equipped with electronic throttle control systems. NHTSA investigators have not found evidence that faulty electronics have caused unintended acceleration; they attribute most cases to an obstruction of the accelerator pedal or to the driver mistakenly pressing the accelerator pedal instead of the brakes.

    The study committee notes, however, that increasingly interconnected and complex automotive electronics are creating many new demands on the automotive industry for product safety assurance and on NHTSA for effective safety oversight. Meeting these emerging demands is critical, as advances in vehicle electronics offer consumers many benefits, including safety features. The report recommends that NHTSA take several actions to prepare for the electronics-intensive vehicle of the future and to meet the related safety challenges.

    Also of Interest

    Vehicle Safety: Truck, Bus, and MotorcycleTransportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, No. 2194, ISBN 978-0-309-16070-4, 114 pages, 8.5 11, paperback, 2010, $59.00

    Buckling Up: Technologies to Increase Seat Belt UseTRB Special Report 278, ISBN 0-309-08593-4, 103 pages, 6 9, paperback, 2004, $22.00

    An Assessment of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administrations Rating System for Rollover ResistanceTRB Special Report 265, ISBN 0-309-07249-2, 135 pages, 6 9, paperback, 2002, $21.00

    Shopping for Safety: Providing Customer Automotive Safety InformationTRB Special Report 248, ISBN 0-309-06209-8, 160 pages, 6 9, paperback, 1996, $20.00

  • InsIghts from UnIntended AccelerAtIon

    the safety Promise and challenge

    of Automotive electronics

    Transportation Research Board SPECIAL REPORT 308

    Transportation Research Board Washington, D.C.

    2012 www.TRB.org

    Committee on Electronic Vehicle Controls and Unintended Acceleration, Transportation Research Board

    Board on Energy and Environmental Systems

    Computer Science and Telecommunications Board

  • Transportation Research Board Special Report 308

    Subscriber CategoriesPolicy; safety and human factors; vehicles and equipment

    Transportation Research Board publications are available by ordering individual publications directly from the TRB Business Office, through the Internet at www.TRB.org or national-academies.org/trb, or by annual subscription through organizational or individual affiliation with TRB. Affiliates and library subscribers are eligible for substantial discounts. For further information, contact the Transportation Research Board Business Office, 500 Fifth Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001 (telephone 202-334-3213; fax 202-334-2519; or e-mail TRBsales@nas.edu).

    Copyright 2012 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.Printed in the United States of America.

    NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competencies and with regard for appropriate balance.

    This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to the procedures approved by a Report Review Committee consisting of members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine.

    This report was sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

    Cover and inside design by Debra Naylor, Naylor Design.Cover photo by George Dolgikh, shutterstock.com.Typesetting by Circle Graphics, Inc.

    Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

    National Research Council (U.S.). Committee on Electronic Vehicle Controls and Unintended Acceleration. The safety promise and challenge of automotive electronics : insights from unintended acceleration / Committee on Electronic Vehicle Controls and Unintended Acceleration, Transportation Research Board, Board on Energy and Environmental Systems, Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, National Research Council of the National Academies. p. cm.(Transportation Research Board special report ; 308) ISBN 978-0-309-22304-1 1. AutomobilesElectronic equipmentUnited StatesReliability. 2. AutomobilesHandling characteristicsUnited States. I. Title. TL272.5.N38 2012 363.12'51dc23 2012001092

  • The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating soci-ety of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedi-cated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. On the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences.

    The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engi-neers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineer-ing programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Charles M. Vest is presi-dent of the National Academy of Engineering.

    The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Insti-tute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, on its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine.

    The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sci-ences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academys purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the gov-ernment, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council.

    The Transportation Research Board is one of six major divisions of the National Research Council. The mission of the Transportation Research Board is to provide leadership in transportation innovation and progress through research and infor-mation exchange, conducted within a setting that is objective, interdisciplinary, and multimodal. The Boards varied activities annually engage about 7,000 engineers, scientists, and other transportation researchers and practitioners from the public and private sectors and academia, all of whom contribute their expertise in the pub-lic interest. The program is supported by state transportation departments, fed-eral agencies including the component administrations of the U.S. Department of Transportation, and other organizations and individuals interested in the devel-opment of transportation. www.TRB.org

    www.national-academies.org

  • Transportation Research Board Executive Committee*

    Chair: Sandra Rosenbloom, Professor of Planning, University of Arizona, Tucson

    Vice Chair: Deborah H. Butler, Executive Vice President, Planning, and CIO, Norfolk Southern Corporation, Norfolk, Virginia

    Executive Director: Robert E. Skinner, Jr., Transportation Research Board

    J. Barry Barker, Executive Director, Transit Authority of River City, Louisville, Kentucky

    William A. V. Clark, Professor of Geography (emeritus) and Professor of Statistics (emeritus), Department of Geography, University of California, Los Angeles

    Eugene A. Conti, Jr., Secretary of Transportation, North Carolina Department of Transportation, Raleigh

    James M. Crites, Executive Vice President of Operations, DallasFort Worth International Airport, Texas

    Paula J. C. Hammond, Secretary, Washington State Department of Transportation, Olympia

    Michael W. Hancock, Secretary, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, Frankfort

    Chris T. Hendrickso