Pedal Misapplication Study

Published: Jun 2023



Author: Karthikeyan Ekambaram, Bethany Frox, Niamh Bull, Emma Lyndon, Hannah Wright

Pages: 46

Reference: PPR2015


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Pedal misapplication is when a driver applies the wrong pedal of a vehicle, for example: accelerating instead of braking. When followed by the inability to regain control this can result in collisions, causing damage to vehicles and infrastructure, and potentially fatal injury. Current figures of pedal misapplication occurrences are potentially underestimated as they depend heavily on driver statements, which are often unreliable. As a result, investigators are reliant on other data sources such as camera footage and examining the vehicle controls to determine the cause of the collision. This study examined the characteristics of collisions related to pedal misapplication. A systematic literature review was performed to explore the topic of pedal misapplication. Previous research found that pedal misapplication can occur throughout the entire driving cycle and can impact all drivers. However, certain risk factors were identified, including; old age, cognitive impairment, small stepover pedal configuration, incorrect foot positioning, hesitant braking, short stature, smaller shoe size and possibly being female. The review also presented countermeasures, including technologies that are available in the market, which have the potential to mitigate collisions caused by pedal misapplication. In addition, real-world collision data (RAIDS) from 2012 onwards were interrogated to identify pedal misapplication related collisions for further analysis. The majority of the analysed collisions were caused by the driver accelerating instead of applying brakes and a high proportion occurred on smaller roads or car parks at low speed limits, with just under 50% occurring at initial start-up. Within the real-world sample, similar contributing factors were identified to those found in the literature. Elderly drivers and female drivers were most commonly involved, with impairments of driver distraction and illness reported. Vehicles fitted with automatic transmissions were more frequently associated with pedal misapplication cases. This study provides useful insights about crash characteristics and contributory factors of collisions related to pedal misapplication. As crash mitigation systems are growing in popularity amongst vehicle manufacturers, the development and fitment of a system that can detect and mitigate pedal misapplication should be encouraged. This can be achieved through rewarding points in consumer test programmes or by making fitment mandatory through relevant standards.

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