It has been a while since we've posted on the Toyota sudden-acceleration issue. This LA Times article discusses an individual lawsuit filed by the parents of a woman killed when, despite allegedly applying the brakes, her Toyota allegedly accelerated and forced her car into oncoming traffic. The suit blames the sudden acceleration defect, but it also makes a more far-reaching design-defect argument (as no doubt do most other sudden-acceleration suits): that the car should have been equipped with a device that shuts off the accelerator when the brakes are applied -- so-called "brake override" technology. That's not unlike arguments made before air bags were universal that the car should have been equipped with passive restraints (or, specifically, air bags), or, say, in the early 1960's, that the car should have had a padded dash or a shatter-resistant windshield.
These are the kinds of arguments that the tort-as-an-additional-form-of-regulation adherents love and the leave-it-solely-to-the-regulatory-agency folks just hate. It's worth noting that today we have air bags, padded dashes, and shatter-resistant windshields in all cars. And I'd bet that someday brake override technology will be required in all cars. (All BMWs have had it since 2001.) For information on brake override technology go here and here. For the Department of Transportation's views, go here. And for a video of the technology in action, go here.