Each year in the United States, there are an average of 16,000 motor vehicle accidents caused by pedal error. Pedal error is defined as a driver hitting the accelerator instead of the brake. The car shoots forward rapidly and quickly without the driver intending it to move forward. The driver may hit the "brake" harder, causing the car to go even faster. Most drivers immediately realize when they have made a mistake in hitting the wrong pedal, but with no brake force and the car going at high speed, it is often too late for them to do anything to prevent a crash.
A driver who accidentally hits the gas instead of the brake could be held responsible for causing a car accident in Illinois. Victims should consult with a car accident lawyer to determine if they have legal options after a collision resulting from pedal error.
Reducing the Risks of Pedal Error Accidents
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) attributes all cases of sudden acceleration to pedal error. Both NHTSA and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) have investigated accidents in which sudden acceleration occurred, and have investigated reports in which pedal error reportedly occurred due to a vehicle defect. In the past five years, black box data or vehicle event data recorded in the moments before an accident has revealed drivers were hitting the gas pedal instead of the brake pedal.
No investigations over the past 40 years have identified any problems with vehicles leading to simultaneous malfunctioning of the throttle and the accelerator. Every instance where sudden acceleration was reported happened due to driver error, with the driver of the vehicle hitting the wrong pedal.
The majority of pedal error accidents occur when the car is traveling at a slow speed, or when the car is approaching a setting where braking is required, such as an intersection or an exit ramp from a highway. NHTSA cautions motorists they should be very careful when moving at slow speeds. Many pedal error accidents also happen when a driver is parking. NHTSA urges drivers to go slow when backing out of or pulling into parking spaces so no unintentional pedal errors are made.
NHTSA also has other tips for drivers to prevent collisions resulting from pedal error. Drivers should never use phones or pay attention to distractions when driving. Taking focus off the road increases the chance the wrong pedal will be used.
Drivers should wear the correct shoes when operating their vehicles. Heavy boots, high heels, and flip flops all increase the risk of an accident resulting from pedal error. NHTSA recommends flat, light-weight shoes whenever a motorist is operating a vehicle.
It is important for drivers to get into the habit of aiming for the center of the brake pedal each time they brake. This reduces the chances of a pedal error and improves muscle memory.
Finally, NHTSA advises drivers of the importance of getting familiar with a new vehicle and adjusting it before operating it. Drivers should adjust the mirror and seat, as well as adjustable pedals. Drivers should also take the time to get to know the feel of the pedals before starting the car.