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For years the Japanese inventor Masuyuki Naruse has felt that the traditional gas and brake petal were flawed reports the New York Times.
The side-by-side pedal arrangement, the inventor says, can cause drivers mistakenly to floor the accelerator instead of the brakes, especially under stress. The solution? A single pedal that accelerates the car when pressed with the side of the foot. More to the point, when the pedal is pushed down, it always activates the brakes.
“We have a natural tendency to stomp down when we panic,” said the inventor, Masuyuki Naruse, who owns a small factory here in southwest Japan. “The automakers call it driver error. But what if their design’s all wrong?”
Mr. Naruse, 74, is one of a handful of people who have designed combined brake-accelerator pedals in an effort to prevent accidents caused by unintended acceleration, which has come under a spotlight since charges that some Toyota vehicles accelerate without warning.
Toyota, which attributes reports of unintended acceleration to gas pedals that stick or get caught under floor mats, has recalled 8.5 million vehicles worldwide to address the problems. It has also gently suggested that in some cases the driver might have been at fault.
Last month, it said that an internal investigation of 2,000 vehicles reported to have accelerated unintentionally found “pedal misapplication” in most cases, with drivers mistakenly pressing the accelerator instead of the brakes.
Ririko Takeuchi, a Tokyo-based spokeswoman for Toyota, said the company could not comment on Mr. Naruse’s pedal design. But she said Toyota “listens to ideas we receive from the public, because we believe there’s always room for improvement.”
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