Panel: Monitor car electronics

Jan. 22, 2012 at 4:08 PM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 22 (UPI) -- A newly released study on increasingly complex automotive electronics says the U.S. government will need outside help in monitoring their safety.

The report by the National Research Council last week said while it did not object to closing the books on its probe of unintended accelerations by Toyotas, it did see need for the federal government to pay closer attention to the evolution of electronic systems used in vehicles.

The panel concluded the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration should form a group of outside technical experts to help them not only stay on the cutting edge of new automotive technology but also promptly investigate reports of dangerous defects.

"It is unrealistic to expect NHTSA to hire and maintain personnel who have all of the specialized technical and design knowledge relevant to this constantly evolving field," said Louis Lanzerotti, a professor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and chair of the NRC committee that wrote the report. "A standing advisory committee is one way NHTSA can interact with industry and with technical experts in electronics to keep abreast of these technologies and oversee their safety."

The panel said the NHTSA was on the right track in conducting studies on the designs of keyless ignition systems and the layout of gas and brake pedals. It also said automakers should plan on making event data recorders standard on most of its vehicles in the near future.

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