There is no doubt that negligent or distracted drivers on our Fayetteville roads have a higher risk of being injured or injuring others in a motor vehicle accident. One major distraction is the use of electronics and other hand-held devices such as cell phones.
However, another common error drivers seem to make simply as a result of not paying attention to what they are doing is accidentally hitting the gas pedal instead of the brake. It was reported in a recent study that elderly drivers and those under the age of 20 are more likely to cause accidents due to pressing the wrong pedal.
The severity of such a mistake came to light after an 86-year-old driver accidentally accelerated his car in 2003. He panicked and ran through a market, killing 10 people and injuring 63 others.
The Highway Safety Research Center at the University of North Carolina and TransAnalytics LLC conducted the study. Researchers gathered information from a North Carolina state crash database, interviews with driver rehabilitation specialists and news reports covering gas pedal car accidents.
After analyzing the crash data, researchers noted that it was more common for older female drivers to be involved in accidents caused by mistakenly accelerating instead of braking. In fact, two-thirds of gas pedal accidents involved female drivers.
In addition, data revealed that these types of accidents were more common in parking garages, lots and driveways. This may be because there is less of an opportunity for drivers to prevent causing an accident after making the mistake of hitting the gas instead of slowing down. In parking lots, garages and driveways, vehicles may be in close proximity to other vehicles, objects or people, driver rehabilitation specialists noted.
The study of gas pedal accidents also analyzed the age of drivers involved in such accidents. Drivers older than 76 and younger than 20 were more likely to be involved in gas pedal accidents compared to other age groups. About 40 percent of the drivers involved in these accidents were elderly women. Researchers suggested that either a lack in the maturity of certain brain functions of teens or the loss of certain brain functions with age are possible reasons younger and elderly drivers appear to be more prone to being involved in gas pedal accidents.
Source: NPR, “Study: Most Gas Pedal Accidents Involve Women,” April 13, 2012