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Pedal Error is a Frequent Cause of Car Accidents

Man pressing brake pedal

Pedal errors, or hitting the gas pedal when you mean to hit the brake, can happen to even conscientious drivers, distracted for a moment or lost in thought. However, a momentary lapse in attention could be enough to result in a serious car accident, under the right (or, rather, wrong) circumstances. Read on to learn about pedal error accidents and ways to prevent them.

Pedal error accidents are a frequent occurrence

While knowing the difference between the accelerator and the brake seems like the most basic element of driving mechanics, pedal error accidents are probably more common than you think. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) considers pedal error accidents a serious area of concern. The NHTSA reports that an average total of 16,000 pedal error accidents occur in the US each year. That means that about 44 crashes occur each day when a driver mistakes the accelerator for the brake.

What sorts of people are often found to be responsible for pedal error accidents?

While these accidents can happen to anyone, the drivers most commonly involved in pedal error accidents are under the age of 20 or over the age of 65. In fact, older women are found to be responsible for four times as many pedal error accidents as any other group. Researchers suggest that the brains of drivers under 20 are still developing, and that those same neurological processes have begun to decay in the elderly, resulting in similar driving errors. Older drivers may also be experiencing a loss of sensation in their hands and feet, causing them to unknowingly depress the wrong pedal while driving.

What types of damages are commonly associated with pedal error accidents?

While most states do not track the number of accidents specifically caused by pedal error, North Carolina does, and the NHTSA commissioned a study using this data received from North Carolina, compared with past studies and crash reports, to investigate the results and causes of these accidents. The study revealed that most pedal error accidents occur at low speeds, such as in stop-and-go traffic or in parking lots. However, serious accidents can result from pedal misapplication, such as the 2003 accident during which an 86-year-old man took the life of ten individuals at an open-air market in Santa Monica after stepping on the gas when he intended to step on the brake.

How can pedal misapplication be prevented?

The NHTSA suggests that drivers follow several guidelines in order to avoid pedal error accidents. First, drivers should check that their seat, steering wheel, and mirrors are in the correct position to ensure that they can reach both pedals comfortably. Drivers should aim for the middle of the brake pedal every time, in order to reinforce muscle memory and lower the chances of pedal error. Drivers should also exercise caution when emerging from a parking space. While sandals may seem like the default footwear for the Southern Californian, flip-flops can be dangerous driving shoes, as can heavy boots, thick-soled orthopedic shoes, and high heels. Instead, wear flat-soled, light-weight shoes when you’re behind the wheel. Finally, avoid distractions that could cause you to fumble when reaching for the brake.

If you’ve been involved in a serious car or truck accident in the Antelope Valley, seek help getting the damages to which you’re entitled for your injuries by contacting the skilled Palmdale personal injury lawyer Paul Kistler for a consultation on your case, at 661-206-6990.

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