Sudden acceleration is one of the most dangerous things that can occur in a motor vehicle. Sudden acceleration happens when the car begins to move forward rapidly without the driver intending to move forward. The car shoots forward at a high speed and no brake pressure is applied to slow the vehicle. The car is likely to hit objects in front of it, including other vehicles and pedestrians. Car accidents often occur at high speeds in sudden acceleration cases and the force of the crash can cause serious injuries or fatalities.
Determining the cause of a sudden acceleration collision is essential. Victims of these collisions should consult with an experienced car accident lawyer. The victims of sudden acceleration crashes should be compensated for damages by those who caused the crash.
What is the Cause of Sudden Acceleration Accidents & How Can They Be Prevented
Some motorists have reported sudden acceleration was caused by a problem with their car. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) have investigated reports of vehicle defects leading to sudden acceleration. Crash reports have also been investigated, and the agencies have obtained data from event recorders or black boxes in vehicles involved in accidents.
The investigations have revealed drivers hitting the gas pedal instead of the brake pedal. Over the past 40 years, there have been no investigations showing a vehicle defect causing a simultaneous problem with the throttle and with the brake. This has led NHTSA to conclude sudden acceleration is not caused by a problem with the car but is most often caused by pedal error.
Pedal error can occur if the driver hits both the gas and the brake simultaneously; if the driver hits the brake instead of the gas; or if the driver hits the gas instead of the brake. Hitting the brake instead of the gas often leads to rear-end accidents as the car comes to a sudden stop and is hit by the vehicle following it. Hitting the gas instead of the brake can cause pedestrian collisions in parking lots or high-speed accidents when the accelerating car hits other vehicles. Each year, an average of 16,000 accidents in the United States occur because of pedal error.
NHTSA has tips for motorists to avoid crashes caused by pedal error. Drivers are urged to always wear comfortable and appropriate shoes when driving. Flat, light-weight shoes allow drivers to best determine they are hitting the correct pedal. Driving safely in heavy work boots, flip flops, or high heels is difficult and the risk of pedal error is significantly increased.
Drivers are also urged to avoid distractions and to drive slowly and carefully, especially in places where pedal error is most likely to occur. Common locations for crashes caused by pedal error include parking lots, intersections, highway exit ramps, and other places where braking is often necessary or where cars are moving at slow speeds.
Finally, drivers are urged to become accustomed to hitting the middle of the brake to develop muscle memory, and to become familiar with the feel of pedals before driving a new vehicle for the first time.