You’re backing out of your driveway, you ease down on the pedal... but you don’t go anywhere. You look down, and shake your head—you thought the brake was the gas. You may have chalked it up to a silly mistake and went on your way, without ever considering what would have happened if you had made a similar mistake in traffic.
Pedal Mistakes Put Everyone at Risk
While drivers use their accelerator and brake pedals thousands of times without incident, pedal errors are still a major risk to passengers, other drivers, and nearby pedestrians. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently alerted drivers to some staggering facts about pedal mistakes on U.S. roads:
- How often does it happen? Roughly 16,000 preventable car accidents take place each year—or almost 44 incidents every single day—as a result of pedal errors.
- What causes it? There are several ways drivers can accidentally step on the gas while intending to brake. A driver’s foot may slip off the edge of the brake onto the gas pedal, or a driver will step on the brake and the accelerator at the same time. Swapping the gas for the brake often causes a sudden vehicle acceleration at a time when the driver anticipated a stop, making it likely that an object is in his path.
- When does it occur? These crashes tend to take place at lower speeds, such as when a driver is using a highway off ramp. However, the sudden switch from slowing to acceleration often occurs in pedestrian-filled areas, including parking lots and intersections.
- Who is driving? These crashes can occur in drivers of any age group, but the most likely drivers are those new to the task or are over retirement age. Drivers under 20 and over age 65 suffer pedal error crashes four times as often as drivers of other ages.
Fortunately, there are a few things drivers can do to reduce their odds of suffering a pedal mistake car accident:
- Wear proper shoes. Wear flexible shoes with proper grip. Any footwear that is loose, heavy, or restricts your movement should never be worn while driving. A heavy boot can easily depress both pedals at once, while flip-flops can dislodge and become stuck in the foot well.
- Hit the middle. Train your foot to hit the center of the brake pedal every time you use it. This simple act of muscle memory can help you avoid a pedal error without thinking about it.
- Take control. Your vehicle should be adjusted to fit you every time you drive. Place your seat, mirrors, and steering wheel in comfortable positions before starting the car, and make sure you are a comfortable distance from the gas and brake pedals.
- Don’t drive distracted! Anything that takes your focus off of driving has the potential to cause pedal mistakes. Keep your eyes on the road, hands on the wheel, and feet on the ground until your journey is over and the engine is off.
- Go slow. Areas that require slow, careful driving can be dangerous for those outside of their cars. Watch for pedestrians and children while pulling into driveways and backing out of parking spaces.
If you or someone you love was struck in a parking lot accident, we can help you get the compensation you deserve for mounting medical bills. Fill out the quick contact form on this page to have an attorney at Wayne Wright LLP come directly to you. Your contact with us is free, and you don’t owe us anything unless we win your case.