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Mark Bello
Mark Bello
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Study Examines Gas Pedal Accidents

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Only July 7, a 79-year-old driver slammed into a teenager while she was renting a Redbox movie outside a CVS. The driver pushed the gas pedal instead of the brake, and jumped onto the sidewalk, striking the teen. She barely survived, but now faces months, if not years of recovery.

Gas pedal accidents gained notoriety in 2003 when an 86-year-old male driver mistakenly stepped on the gas pedal of his vehicle instead of the brake, then panicked, plowing into an open-air market in Santa Monica, Calif. Ten people were killed and 63 injured. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly 16,000 preventable accidents each year are due to pedal error. On a daily basis, this means approximately 44 pedal error-related accidents occur on U.S. roadways. Younger (under 20) or older drivers (over 65 years of age) are four times more likely to have such an accident.

In addition to pushing the gas pedal instead of the break, pedal error also occur when the drivers’ foot slips off of the brake and onto the accelerator or the driver inadvertently steps on both the brake and the accelerator pedals. These errors commonly occur at low speeds, such as in parking lots or when breaking is required such as at intersections, in rush hour traffic, or highway exit or entrance ramps. Once the pedal error occurs, the situation can rapidly escalate, often results in an accident. This is why prevention is key.

Given that pedal error is entirely preventable, the NHTSA released a safety advisory detailing how drivers can reduce such accidents.

Be familiar with your vehicle. There is the significant variation among vehicle makers on pedal placement. While you should adjust the seat and steering wheels to ensure that you can reach the pedals, also make sure that you are familiar with the location and feel of the brake and accelerator pedals.

Avoid distraction. Stay focused on driving, put away any electronic devices, and drive defensively.

Aim for the middle. Aim for the center of the brake pad to prevent double pedal application and help to avoid slips of the foot onto the accelerator.

Wear the right shoes. Footwear can impact a driver’s ability to engage pedals. Wear shoes that provide you with adequate control and are not prone to slippage. Flip flops, high heels, and some boots can contribute to pedal error accidents. The agency suggests wearing light, flat-soled shoes when driving.

Mark Bello is the CEO and General Counsel of Lawsuit Financial Corporation, a pro-justice lawsuit funding company.