If the brake button was located between the driver and passenger like many parking brake levers are that might make sense. But on my wife's Subaru and the VW Jetta of which I spake earlier the button is near the driver door. Reaching past the driver with the steering wheel in the way while your seatbelt may be restraining your movement to engage it is not a very viable solution to a crisis situation, assuming something isn't blocking your ability to see where the control is (which is likely the case). I just don't see where that would be a valid argument for the design decisions they made (or didn't make). As a developer of medical software I (and the company I work for) am required to exercise due diligence in risk assessment for every change we make to our products no matter how trivial. We are required to provide documentary justification for any risk classification we assign to the modification and show that we have considered any consequences and their potential impact on safety. I cannot help believing that manufacturers of automobiles are required to be at least as diligent in considering risk. Switching from the old-school "emergency brake lever" model that could be used in a controlled manner by either driver or passenger to an automatic system over which the operator has very limited control is a major change. It eliminates many potential ways in which the former implementation could be used to avert disaster. I don't see where it adds anything other than minor convenience at the expense of several already-noted benefits.