You may have seen news reports of people crashing into stores and other buildings. You probably shook your head in disbelief or even laughed. While a momentary slip-up—mistaking the accelerator for the brake—may seem funny, the victims don't see it that way. Many get seriously injured or even killed in such car crashes.
The owner of an Oklahoma City car dealership was seriously injured on October 9. A customer at Norris Auto Dealers went to back up a car and pressed the accelerator instead of the brake. The car slammed through the back of the building and into the showroom. The dealership owner tried to get away, but was hit by the SUV. The SUV also hit two vehicles before crashing through the front window.
The general manager and another man narrowly escaped injury. The dealership owner was knocked unconscious and suffered a serious leg injury. His leg required surgery and he is recovering. The dealership remained open for business despite the crash.
Mistaking the accelerator for the brake is called pedal error, and it happen more often than you think. Pedal error results in 16,000 crashes every year.
Pedal error tends to happen when a driver's foot slips off the brake and hits the accelerator. It can also happen when the driver puts a foot on both pedals at the same time. As a result, the vehicle quickly accelerates instead of braking. The driver is often startled and unable to correct the error in time. The end result is a car crashing through a building, causing property damage and injuries.
Pedal error occurs most often when drivers are traveling at low speeds, such as in driveways or parking lots. Those who are younger than 20 and older than 65 are most likely to engage in pedal error.
There are ways to avoid these types of accidents so you don't become a statistic. One good rule is to wear proper footwear when driving. Lightweight shoes with flat soles work best. High heels, boots and flipflops tend to cause the foot to slip, making pedal errors more likely to occur.
It's also important to become familiar with the placement of the pedals, especially if you're driving a new car. Know exactly where the brake and accelerator are located before putting the car into drive.