An 84-year-old Sarasota woman recently crashed her Toyota Avalon into a Bank of America building when she hit the gas pedal rather than the brake as she was pulling into a parking space, according to a news report.
Fortunately, no one was injured in the accident when the woman’s car surged onto the sidewalk beside the bank entrance and hit the building. Police cited with woman with careless driving. But crashes involving pedal error can cause serious and fatal injuries to other motorists and pedestrians.
Last year, a 79-year-old woman struck a group of pedestrians in a church parking lot in Bradenton, killing three people and injuring four more when her vehicle accelerated backward rather than going forward. The Florida Highway Patrol cited her for improper backing. The driver previously had crashed into a McDonald’s restaurant when she made a pedal error, hitting the gas rather than the brake, according to the Bradenton Herald.
Pedal crash errors occur when a driver steps on the accelerator when intending to apply the brakes or steps on both the accelerator and the brake. If the vehicle design does not provide enough separation between the brake pedal and accelerator pedal, it may increase the probability of the driver pressing both pedals at the same time.
In some instances, a driver’s foot may slip off the brake onto the gas pedal, particularly if a driver is wearing flip flops or high heels. This can cause a vehicle to accelerate suddenly.
A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that accidents involving pedal error occur approximately 16,000 times a year in the United States.
Any driver can make a pedal error. But the study found that young drivers under the age of 20 and drivers over the age of 65 have accidents involving pedal errors four times more frequently than other age groups. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety, 15 percent of drivers in Hillsborough County are age 65 and older and 5 percent are under age 20.
Car accidents involving pedal errors frequently occur in parking lots, in driveways, at intersections and on exit ramps. The drivers may be startled by the unexpected sudden acceleration of their vehicle and have little time to react before colliding with another vehicle, an object or a person. More than 9,000 accidents involving pedal errors occur each year in parking lots and driveways, according to the NHTSA.
Here are some ways to reduce the chances of a pedal error:
If you have been injured in an accident caused by a driver who confused the brake and the gas pedal in the Tampa Bay area, contact a knowledgeable Tampa car accident lawyer to review your legal options.