Pedal Application Errors

A number of spectacular crashes have resulted from drivers mistakenly pressing the accelerator instead of the brake, but it is unclear how frequently these pedal application errors occur. Pedal misapplication events are difficult to study because drivers may not realize that they made an error, believing instead that the accelerator stuck and prevented them from braking. Further, these incidents tend to occur on private property, often driveways or parking lots, so may not be reported to police or included in crash databases. Pedal errors have resulted in property damage as well as severe injuries and fatalities. An older man drove into an outdoor market in Santa Monica in 2003 causing 10 deaths and 63 injuries. In October of 2007 a Chicago driver made a similar error as he was parking, and hit and killed a person standing on a sidewalk. In August of 2007 a driver injured four people when he applied the accelerator instead of the brake and drove his vehicle into a restaurant. The purpose of this study is to acquire information from sources including insurance and police records to determine whether pedal application errors are extensive enough to warrant development of countermeasures.

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • See DOT HS 811 597 "Pedal Application Errors" and DOT HS 811 605 "Pedal Application Crashes"


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Funding: $682246.00
  • Contract Numbers:


  • Sponsor Organizations:

    National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, D.C.  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Sifrit, Kathy

  • Performing Organizations:

    University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

    910 Raleigh Rd  
    Chapel Hill, NC  United States  27517-9100
  • Start Date: 20090918
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 20120400
  • USDOT Program: Behavioral Safety Research
  • Subprogram: Older Driver

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01490668
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
  • Contract Numbers: DTNH22-07-D-00049
  • Files: RiP
  • Created Date: Aug 29 2013 1:00AM