Unintended Acceleration Related to Pedal Error
So-called “unintended acceleration” in all makes of automobiles occurs when the driver enters the parked vehicle, starts it, and then shifts to Drive. Reportedly, the vehicle runs away at full throttle, and the brakes have no effect, leaving the driver to claim that the vehicle malfunctioned.
Our analysis of these accidents reveals that the driver unknowingly made a pedal error, placing the right foot on the accelerator rather than the brake. We have worked with nearly all of the automakers in these situations, providing evidence supporting a human-factors explanation rather than a mechanical one. We also examined other types of pedal errors that occur during driving, showing that unintended acceleration is but a small percentage of pedal errors generally. One implication of this project is the notion that the design of automobile pedals must be considered far more broadly than just in terms of unintended-acceleration episodes.