Pedal Error Not an Uncommon Source of Accidents

It’s one of the most basic skills a driver has to have—pressing the correct pedal at the correct time. Nevertheless, whether due to distraction or decaying mental functioning, dozens of auto accidents occur every day when drivers press the wrong pedal.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that accidents resulting from pedal misapplication, or pedal error, occur surprisingly often. In fact, the NHTSA reports that there are roughly 16,000 pedal error accidents every year in the US, or about 44 every day.

Pedal error accidents have been the subject of only a modest amount of study; to wit, only one state (North Carolina) tracks the frequency with which pedal error is attributed with causing an accident. A recent study conducted by TransAnalytics and the Highway Safety Research Center at the University of North Carolina used both North Carolina’s collected data and accident reports along with prior studies to determine the frequency with which these accidents occur. According to the study, most pedal error accidents occur at low speeds, such as in the midst of stop-and-go traffic and while driving through parking lots or backing out of a space. Nevertheless, pedal misapplication can result in occasional, very serious, crashes. In June of this year, a Pennsylvania man was involved in a crash into the side of a building, which he blamed on the autopilot feature of his Tesla, but after an investigation it was believed to be the result of pedal error.

Pedal misapplication can happen when any driver becomes momentarily flustered, or simply isn’t paying attention to the task of driving. However, most drivers involved in pedal error accidents are either under the age of 20 or over the age of 65. Experts believe that these drivers are either still developing, or are suffering from the decay of, the same neurological capability which allows drivers to select the correct pedal at the correct time. Additionally, elderly drivers often suffer from nerve damage which limits their ability to feel the pedal beneath their foot and select the correct pedal, and are more likely to wear thick-soled orthopedic shoes that inhibit them from quickly switching from the accelerator to the brake pedal. Drivers are advised to aim for the center of the pedal when braking in order to reinforce the muscle memory involved in applying the brake, and to wear light, flat-soled shoes when driving.

If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident in New Jersey, contact the skilled, determined, and trial-ready Wayne personal injury lawyers at Massood Law Group for a consultation on your case, at 973-696-1900.

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