A quick visit to a licensing office at the Paulding County Courthouse turned harmful and deadly for pedestrians talking and walking to their cars. A 60-year old grandpa was having a conversation with a woman with twin infants when they were all struck by a vehicle that traveled in their walking path. Another pedestrian was so badly injured with critical injuries, she later passed away at a local hospital. The tragic pedestrian accident was the result of an elderly driver parking her vehicle and possibly hitting the accelerator rather than the brakes of her car. According to reports, witnesses said that after the woman struck the pedestrians, she was aware of what had happened and was shaken and upset. She is now charged with the Georgia crime of second-degree vehicular homicide.
This recent vehicle accident raises the question: why do drivers mistake the gas for the brake? In general, this type of accident occurs in small areas, like parking lots where the driver is driving slowly and using a vehicle’s strong idle and brake to move the vehicle. The experts say that in this scenario, the brain says to the driver using idle and the brake … “the vehicle is moving forward so the other pedal must be the brake.” And after this mistake, the brain gets overloaded and once shock sets in the action is tough to reverse as our brains don’t function as well under that level of stress. Other factors for elderly drivers include a potential lack of feeling in the right leg which ends up hitting both pedals at the same time.
Another complicating factor for drivers is that in some vehicles, the gas and brake pedals are at the same height and it is more difficult to discern the differences between the two. If you have an elderly relative or know someone who has difficulty walking — in other words, has a shuffle in their walk rather than lifting their feet, this could be a major liability when driving. Although this mistake can happen to any driver under stress, the ability to lift the right leg is a key factor in ensuring that this mistake will not occur. Drivers that are not capable of raising the right leg to use the brake, which is often higher than the gas pedal, are at greater risk for this error.
We want our family members to have the freedom and independence of driving for as long as possible. But we need to know when it is time to gently remove the keys to the car from an elderly driver. In our next post, we will share some of the ways that we can help elderly family members keep their independence and when to make that tough call to encourage our loved ones to find alternative transportation and put those keys away.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a motor vehicle, in a car accident or pedestrian accident, you may need the support of experts who can evaluate your legal rights. Scholle Law is a legal team that provides excellence in legal representation and compassion in the process of your case. We provide complimentary case evaluations with no obligation. Contact our law firm to learn more about what we can do to help you and your family after injury or accident.