In recent years, there have been more cases around the world of accidents caused by pedal misapplication (drivers accidentally pressing on the gas pedal instead of the brakes) with allegations of "sudden unintended acceleration (SUA)" in some instances.
While these accidents are more commonly seen with elderly people, any other driver on the road could also make the same mistake. Thankfully, newer cars are often equipped with features to prevent these accidents from happening.
But what about older models which did not come with this system?
To help prevent this kind of accident from happening in their old models, Toyota recently released a new pedal misappication mitigation feature which can be retrofitted onto the previous-generation Prius and the Aqua by dealerships in Japan. The system includes “Toyota Safety Sense” and “Intelligent Clearance Sonar” and automatic emergency braking.
Toyota's new system works by having ultrasonic sensors fitted at the vehicle's front and rear bumper, which then detect objects in front and behind of the vehicle. A display with a buzzer is then fitted inside which sounds if the vehicle gets too close to an object, such as a wall. Should the accelerator then be mistakenly pressed, the brakes will automatically be applied in order to prevent an accident.
Aside from preventing suddenly driving forward, the system also prevents drivers from going too fast in reverse. Even without detecting any object behind it, the system will automatically slow the car down if it goes too fast in reverse.
For the time being, the pedal misapplication mitigation feature is only being offered in Japan and is available only for the older-model Prius and Aqua for 55,000 yen (Php 25,000). However, Toyota says that they will be expanding it to other models in the future. There is no word however if the system will be made available outside of Japan.