FindLaw KnowledgeBasePublished: 2012-05-04
When a driver panics, overreacts or makes a serious mistake, catastrophic injuries can result in a heartbeat. Whether that action leads to an immediate confession of fault or the legal complexities of a hit-and-run accident claim, the personal injury victim or wrongful death survivor deserves compensation for the harm caused by the driver’s negligence.
A recent study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) looked at accidents caused by motorists who make the most basic and serious driving error: they hit the gas pedal rather than the brakes at a critical moment. Motor vehicle accident researchers examined the driver and vehicle characteristics of pedal application errors, as well as the circumstance under which they most frequently occur.
The study was based on national crash causation surveys, media reports and accident case studies, among other data. The authors concluded that across all types of data, one finding was consistent: female drivers were involved in about two-thirds of gas pedal misapplication crashes, even though men have a higher representation rate (60 percent) in overall car and truck accidents. Other significant findings:
- Driver inattention was the most likely contributing factor, including use of cell phones, looking away from the roadway, talking to passengers and reaching for objects
- Higher driver age was strongly associated with mistakes that involved the accuracy of right foot movements
- In one of five gas pedal accidents, the driver had been startled by circumstances, and the effect of panicked reactions was worst in younger drivers
- The majority of these accidents occur in parking lots, driveways and parking garages
When a panicked driver mistakenly hits the gas when intending to brake, the resulting acceleration in a tight space can quickly crush a pedestrian or bicyclist. A car accident lawyer can help clients explore all potential causes, from drunk driving to auto defects, as well as associated issues involving hit/skip accidents or uninsured motorists.