The Toyota sudden acceleration scandal brought the safety issue of mistakenly hitting the gas when drivers mean to hit the brake to the forefront of the public's awareness. Since the scandal, car and truck accidents involving this safety misstep have not decreased.
A new study commissioned by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicates that while six in 10 crashes involve male drivers, six in 10 pedal-mistake crashes involve women drivers. Risk of these kinds of accidents is especially high for those who are older than 76 years of age and those who are in their teens.
While most of these accidents occur in parking lots and not on crowded highways, the consequences of these crashes can be devastating nonetheless. Researchers indicated that gas pedal mistakes may happen on open roads quite often, but motorists are given more room to correct their mistakes in these environments, so the results tend to be less catastrophic.
The NHTSA study analyzed nearly 2,500 accidents involving gas pedal mistakes. Researchers indicated that the brains of very young and significantly elderly drivers are likely not as "robust" and thus do not react as consistently and efficiently as they might during other periods of life.
Executive functioning tends to decline in elderly drivers, whereas very young drivers have yet to fully mature certain cognitive functions necessary for consistent driving.
Human error also inevitably occurs in day-to-day functioning, regardless of age or gender. Nevertheless, the study's findings will hopefully inspire both young and elderly women, as well as other motorists, to pay close attention when starting and stopping.
Source: San Francisco Chronicle, "Study: More female drivers mistakenly hit gas pedal," Joan Lowy, Apr. 14, 2012