The US government's safety agency wants all new cars to have a "brake override" feature, so that if drivers hit both accelerator and brake pedal, the engine will return to idle automatically.
This follows the controversy over allegations of Toyotas experiencing unintended acceleration. At the time, Autoblog was deeply sceptical of these allegations, having spoken to engineers at rival car companies who did not believe it was technically possible. Now the US government has confirmed that it has not been able to substantiate a single case against Toyota. However, it believes driver error can lead to too many cases of hitting both pedals together and it wants car companies to make it impossible for both pedals to activate at the same time.
If the technology was brought to Europe, there would be some irate enthusiast drivers – not least at motoring magazines. The age-old practice of "heel and toeing" would become impossible: that is hitting the brake with the toe and blipping the throttle with the outside of the foot when changing down a gear.
However, it may well happen. Soon all cars will be fitted with Electronic Traction Control of one sort or another and this is another step along the road of protecting people from their own mistakes. If it stops an accident it is probably a good thing, but it seems slightly depressing that we cannot be trusted to press the right pedal when required. That seems a poor return on all those millions of years of evolution.