There’s a big risk inherent in the default setup of a brake and gas pedal right next to each other. Yet there hasn’t been a good enough alternative, though a jet-fighter-style throttle would be awesome. A major risk is stepping hard on the gas when you mean to brake. Masuyuki Naruse knew there had to be another way to do it.
Gas and brake combine in Naruse pedal
Masuyuki Naruse got the idea after two incidents in which he inadvertently hit the accelerator pedal instead of the brakes in the 1980s. According to the New York Times, Naruse (Nah-roo-say) knew there had to be a better way. He thought that a single pedal would be better than the dual pedal system. So he started work on a pedal that could accelerate and brake without the potential mistake. His first prototype was finished in 1991.
Toyota takes a look
The Naruse pedal is for acceleration and braking, but not quite like the usual pedals. To brake, you push your foot down normally. The gas is a lever, which you move with your foot side to side. To speed up, you move your foot to the right. To brake, push down with your foot like you would normally. Toyota’s engineers tested the pedal about 10 years ago, but didn’t do much with it afterward. A Swede named Sven Gustafsson invented something similar. It’s being tested in Sweden.
Naruse pedal addresses a real issue
Dual pedals pose a real threat. The Institute for Traffic Accident Research and Data Analysis found that 6,700 accidents, 9,500 injuries and 37 deaths occurred in Japan because of hitting the wrong pedal. Richard A. Schmidt found that in emergencies, neuromuscular processes are disrupted and can cause people to forget which pedal is which. There are 130 cars that can legally have the Nasure pedal installed. Naruse personally invited Akio Toyoda, President of Toyota to try his pedal, but was refused.
NY Times: http://nytimes.com/2010/08/04/business/global/04pedal.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1
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