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by Brett Davis

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the US is proposing new design rule to standardise the length of time a vehicle’s engine start/stop button has to be held down to kill the engine.

The proposal comes after a family died in 2009 while driving a Lexus ES 350 that experienced unintended acceleration. The panicked driver was not able to turn the car off quickly enough to avoid crashing.

Apparently, the Lexus, which comes standard with a button start system, requires the button to be held down for up to three seconds before the engine is shut off.

The NHTSA wants a standardised time of 0.5 seconds to be put in place for all vehicles. This aims to eliminate any confusion between different makes. The NHTSA said in its proposal,

“At issue are drivers’ inability to stop a moving vehicle in a panic situation, and drivers who unintentionally leave the vehicle without the vehicle transmission’s being ‘locked in park,’ or with the engine still running, increasing the chances of vehicle rollaway or carbon monoxide poisoning in an enclosed area.”

The Administration predicts that it would cost under $500,000 a year to have the rule imposed for all vehicles across the market, fitted with the technology. Vice president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety Henry Jasny said in a recent Bloomberg report,

“These are the kinds of things you never think to read up on when you’re in a new vehicle or a rental vehicle. It’s better that it’s standardised.”

The proposal was published in the Federal Register yesterday.

What do you think? Does your car have a push-button start system? Are there any complications to its use? Feel free to give us your thoughts below.