You’re behind the wheel. You step on the brake exactly as you have done countless times in the past. All of a sudden, your vehicle bolts forward instead of stopping as you expected. What in the world happened?
It was probably a pedal error, which is what occurs when a driver confuses the gas pedal and the brake. This mistake makes the vehicle accelerate abruptly in locations such as exit ramps, parking lots or intersections. It occurs far more often than you may think. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that “16,000 preventable crashes” take place annually for this reason.
The NHTSA adds that “Pedal error crashes can present serious safety risks to the vehicle occupants, surrounding motorists, pedestrians, and property.” Drivers who are younger than 20 years old or older than 65 years old are most likely to experience pedal error.
What happens to cause pedal error?
There are a few factors that can result in pedal error. Inadvertently applying pressure to the wrong pedal is one. Another is when a driver’s foot slides off of one pedal and onto the other. A third is if a driver steps on both pedals simultaneously.
The vehicle speeds up so abruptly – and the driver is often so rattled – that avoiding an accident is impossible.
You can take steps to make pedal error less likely
Here are some sound pointers to diminish the risk of pedal error:
- Don’t allow distractions to interfere with your concentration when driving
- Certain types of shoes or boots make it harder to manipulate the pedals properly. High heels, flip-flops and cumbersome boots aren’t the best driving choices. Flat soles are preferable.
- Routinely position your foot in the middle of the brake rather than on the edge.
- When operating a vehicle that is new to you, adjust to the feel of each pedal.
- Take your time when entering or departing from a parking space.
Pedal error is avoidable
Focusing solely on what you are doing when driving and taking precautions reduces the possibility of pedal error. If you are hurt in a crash because of a driver’s pedal error, you might be able to obtain compensation for your injuries.