Since August 2010, all Toyota and Lexus vehicles equipped with a “start/stop” button (instead of the traditional metal key) have a panic stop feature. With just three quick pushes, the button will turn off the engine.
It’s a safety feature that, in case you were still needlessly worried about the “unintended acceleration” issue that has quietly plagued Toyota since throngs of vicious Prius owners pilloried the automaker’s image with warrantless accusations of unintended acceleration, could help in a case of unintended acceleration–or user error whereby a panicked driver mistakes the gas pedal for the brake.
But it isn’t the only way to disable an engine’s power. In addition to the three-push rule, the buttons used to disable after a continuous 3-second push. After careful consideration, that time has been reduced to two seconds.
According to a Toyota spokeman, in an email to USA TODAY, the changes came from the recommendation of SAE, or the Society of Automotive Engineers, citing a report that the three-second continuous push was a longer push than what a driver would expect in a panicked situation.
Automotive.com’s take: We feel that this is a good safety improvement, and one that should be standardized across automakers, but it should also be mentioned that by the time a panicked driver is finished stomping on the breaks and swerving from a hazardous road situation, it may already be too late to triple-tap a start/stop button.
Source: Detroit Free Press