The Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued on Friday a safety advisory and consumer video warning of the risk of pedal error crashes when drivers mistake the accelerator for the brake pedal. These crashes can be very serious and present safety risks to vehicle occupants, and surrounding motorists, pedestrians and property.
Information is available onNHTSA’s YouTube channel, SaferCarTV, at https://youtu.be/fC8fzyTAgyQ.
While drivers use the brake almost a million times each year – usually with no problem – a NHTSA study shows that these preventable crashes occur up to 16,000 times per year in the U.S. While these crashes can affect all drivers, drivers under the age of 20 and drivers 65 and older experience pedal error crashes about four times more frequently that other age groups. NHTSA’s safety advisory urges drivers to take the following actions to help prevent pedal error crashes:
Get Familiar – Adjust your seat, mirrors, steering wheel and pedals (if they are adjustable) properly before starting the vehicle. If you’re driving a vehicle you don’t normally drive, make sure to familiarize yourself with the location and feel of the accelerator and brake pedals.
Aim for the Middle – Make it a habit to aim for the center of the brake pedal every time the brake is used. This reinforces muscle memory and reduces the chances of pedal error.
Avoid Distraction – While driving, stay focused on the driving task until the vehicle is safely stopped, shifted into park and turned off. Do not reduce attention to vehicle control near the end of the driving cycle simply because the driving task is almost complete and the vehicle is travelling very slowly.
Be Cautious – Proceed slowly and carefully when pulling in and backing out of parking spaces.
Wear Safe Footwear – Safe footwear affects your ability to operate a vehicle. Footwear such as flip-flops, heavy boots or high heels can contribute to pedal error crashes. Wear flat soled and light-weight shoes whenever you’re in the driver’s seat.