On May 29, the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) issued a safety advisory in an attempt to reduce the number of accidents caused by pedal error. According to the NHTSA, drivers use the brake almost one million times per year, typically without incident. However, approximately 16,000 preventable crashes occur each year as a result of pedal error — when drivers mistake the accelerator for the brake.
A NHTSA study revealed that these crashes can occur up to 16,000 times per year in the United States — averaging nearly 44 incidents per day. All drivers can be impacted by this type of crash, but the study discovered that drivers under the age of 20 and over the age of 65 experience this type of accident about four times as often as drivers in the other age groups.
Pedal error accidents
Pedal error crashes can cause serious car accident injuries and result in major property damage. This type of accident can occur when the driver’s foot slips off the edge of the brake and onto the accelerator, or when the driver steps on the accelerator intending to apply the brake, or when the driver accidentally applies both the brake and the accelerator. This can result in sudden vehicle acceleration, often at full-throttle, without the necessary brake forced needed to slow the vehicle down.
This type of accident happens most frequently in vehicles that are traveling at very low speeds, such as those attempting to park or in situations where frequent braking is often necessary, such as at intersections and highway exit ramps. Many drivers know they’ve pressed the wrong pedal immediately, but can’t stop their vehicle in time to prevent a crash, as they only have a few seconds before impact.
Pedal error crashes have also been linked to situations that startle drivers, as people tend to attempt at slamming on the brake when startled, especially if they believe they’re in a life-threatening situation. Unfortunately, faster and more forceful foot movements can be less accurate, which may cause a pedal misapplication.
How to prevent pedal error accidents
Pedal accidents are highly preventable.
The NHSTA advises drivers to take the following steps to avoid this type of crash:
- Get familiar with the vehicle before starting it.
- Aim for the middle of the brake pedal every time.
- Avoid distractions of any type while driving.
- Be cautious when pulling in and backing out of parking spaces.
- Always wear proper footwear when driving.
Maine car accident attorneys
The attorneys at Hardy, Wolf & Downing hope that increased awareness and preventive measures will reduce the number of preventable accidents and tragedies resulting from pedal errors. In the interim, if you or a loved one has been hurt or killed in a crash that you believe was caused by a pedal error from another driver, you may have the grounds to file a pedal error accident lawsuit in Maine.
Call 1-800-INJURED immediately to schedule a free case review with the Maine car accident attorneys at Hardy, Wolf & Downing.