General Motors, the world's second largest car manufacturer, confirmed April 5 that it will install brake override systems globally by 2012.

Last month, Toyota's Special Commission for Global Quality promised that a brake override system would be incorporated into global production models from this year. Mazda and Nissan have confirmed similar intentions.

In fact, one of the most obvious legacies of Toyota's massive recall due to unintended acceleration is likely to be the new prominence of the new systems in vehicles.

Brake override systems work by cutting the engine's acceleration automatically in the event that both the brake and the acceleration pedals are depressed. In theory, this means that the reported experience of some Toyota owners - where accelerators have become "jammed" and brakes are unable to slow the vehicle - should not be repeated.

The technical specifications of such systems are likely to vary. Toyota's system, for instance, mandates that the throttle must be over a third open, the vehicle must be travelling at over 5 mph (8 km/h) and the brakes must be applied firmly. In all cases, the systems will work electronically; allowing manufacturers to tweak the setting ensure that driver experience is not impacted in scenarios such as hill-starts, for instance.

Analysts estimate that the cost of the system to the manufacturer is around $50 per vehicle, although this could fall if they become more widespread.

Toyota says that owners may never experience the brake override system's operation, meaning that, much like an airbag, the system is as much about confidence as anything else. But like airbags, it seems inevitable that the systems, where not installed already, will become an addition to the showroom "patter" in the coming years.

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