Sudden acceleration has been described as a mechanical problem in vehicles, causing the car to move forward rapidly and unexpectedly. Recent reports from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, however, indicate that mechanical errors have not been the cause of reported sudden acceleration incidents. Instead, pedal error has been the factor resulting in the vehicle suddenly and rapidly accelerating.
Pedal error can occur when drivers make mistakes. In some cases, this can be classified as driver negligence, and it can result in a civil lawsuit against the motorist who made the error. A Janesville auto accident lawyer can provide legal advice to victims of crashes that resulted from sudden acceleration.
Pedal Error: A Leading Cause of Automobile Collisions
According to the NHTSA, pedal error causes as many as 16,000 car accidents throughout the United States each year. Pedal error means the driver presses the gas pedal instead of the brake pedal. It frequently happens in parking lots, intersections, stop signs and other situations when a driver is trying to park the car.
Pedal error crashes are especially dangerous because the driver hits the pedal instead of hitting the brakes. This means that the car does not have any braking force to slow it down and it moves at high speeds. When the driver expects the car to stop and it does not, the driver ends up hitting the pedal harder. This, in turn, results in the car continuing to accelerate as the driver stomps on the gas. The car can strike another vehicle or a pedestrian at a high speed and the significant impact of the collision can cause serious injuries.
Pedal error crashes are sometimes reported as mechanical errors or as vehicle defects causing sudden acceleration. However, the NHTSA and the National Transportation Safety Board have conducted numerous investigations over the past 40 years and have determined from black box reports and other vehicle data that the crashes previously attributed to mechanical defects were actually caused by human error. There have been no collisions in which both the accelerator and the throttle simultaneously malfunctioned and resulted in the vehicle speeding up in an uncontrolled way.
What Can Be Done?
Drivers are urged to reduce the possibility of pedal error crashes by wearing lightweight, flat shoes when operating a vehicle. Heavy boots, flip flops and high-heeled shoes are among the footwear that can increase the chances of pedal-error collisions. Drivers are also advised to become familiar with pedals on new vehicles before beginning operations and ensure they are not distracted. When parking, drivers should also go slowly and motorists should always exercise reasonable caution behind the wheel.
If a driver does hit the wrong pedal and an accident results, victims can speak with an auto accident lawyer in Janesville regarding whether there is sufficient evidence of driver negligence to move forward with a motor vehicle accident claim.