Factors in Pedal Error Accidents

Our North Carolina personal injury law firm has reported on several serious car accidents that occurred because the driver hit the gas pedal instead of the brake. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are 16,000 car accidents caused by pedal error each year – which comes out to 44 pedal error crashes each day.

How Do Pedal Error Accidents Occur?

The NHTSA cites the following as the three most common causes of pedal error crashes:

  • The driver intends to step on the brake but mistakenly steps on the accelerator.
  • The driver’s foot slips from the edge of the brake onto the accelerator.
  • The driver intends to brake but mistakenly steps on both pedals at the same time.

Crashes caused by pedal error most often occur when vehicles are proceeding at a slow pace, such as when a driver is trying to park. After making a pedal error, drivers often do not have time to correct the mistake due to the sudden acceleration that results from using the wrong pedal. This is because drivers are almost always near a building or another car when the error occurs. Pedal error most commonly occurs when drivers are trying to slow down in parking lots, driveways, intersections, and highway exits.

Although any driver can experience pedal error, drivers under the age of 20 years and over the age of 65 years are four times more likely to be involved in an automobile accident that involves pedal confusion.

100 Percent Preventable

Pedal error accidents are 100 percent preventable. The NHTSA has provided a series of tips for preventing pedal error. The agency suggests that drivers:

  • Be familiar with their vehicle and, if driving an unfamiliar vehicle, note the location of the pedals before starting the car
  • Aim for the center of the brake and accelerator pedals
  • Avoid distraction
  • Drive slowly and carefully when parking
  • Wear appropriate shoes, such as flat-soled or lightweight footwear


The damage sustained in a storefront accident caused by a pedal error can be devastating. A number of people could be injured as a result, including the driver of the car, pedestrians walking nearby, anyone shopping in the store, and the store owners themselves. Even if the driver is lucky enough not to have injured anyone, the building will have sustained a substantial amount of damage.

In the event that a pedal error caused an accident, a victim may be able to file a claim against the following individuals:

  • The driver
  • The car’s manufacturer
  • The property manager

Whether the driver was negligent in his or her driving or the manufacturer designed a defective product, the victim may be able to obtain both economic damages, such as compensation for medical bills and lost wages, as well as non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering and permanent disability.

Contact a North Carolina Personal Injury Attorney

Contact Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp as soon as possible after you suffer injuries in a crash or collision. Our skilled North Carolina car accident attorneys provide the professional legal guidance you need to protect your rights in a claim. Our firm has a solid track record of obtaining financial compensation for our clients for medical expenses, loss of income, pain and suffering, emotional anguish, permanent disability, scarring, disfigurement, and more.