Each year, millions of people are injured or killed in car accidents in the United States. While most of these accidents are attributed to driver error, mechanical defects cause more than 44,000 crashes annually, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey (NMVCCS).
An accelerator or gas pedal that gets stuck in the pressed position, causing unintended acceleration, is one such mechanical defect that can have horrifying consequences. Discovering that the accelerator is not responding, despite taking your foot off the pedal and applying the brakes, is one of the most frightening—and potentially deadly—experiences a motorist can have behind the wheel.
Knowing how to properly respond to an accelerator that's stuck may be able to help you prevent serious accidents and injuries. However, if your family has already suffered injuries and other losses as a result of a defective accelerator, the Morris James Personal Injury Group can help you explore your legal options.
Common Accelerator Defect Causes
Accelerator defects usually occur during the design or manufacturing processes. Defectively designed accelerators are those that have a flaw in the design itself and, as a result, are inherently dangerous. Defectively manufactured accelerators feature a perfectly acceptable design, but may be assembled incorrectly or made of the wrong materials.
Also, sometimes the defect that causes the unintended acceleration is not in the accelerator itself, but in a related vehicle component—for example, poorly designed floor mats that trap the gas pedal in the pressed position.
Stopping a Runaway Vehicle
In most cases, a stuck accelerator is not something that can be predicted or prevented, and experts stress that it can happen to anyone, in any vehicle, at any time. However, while you may not be able to prevent your accelerator from sticking, knowing how to respond to unintended acceleration can spell the difference between a minor mishap and a devastating accident. If your accelerator sticks while driving, follow these simple safety tips:
- Don't panic. Staying calm in such a high-stress situation can be difficult, but it is essential.
- Attempt to dislodge the accelerator. Push on it to see if it will release, or lock your foot underneath the gas pedal and try to lift it up.
- Put your foot on the brake pedal. However, resist the urge to pump the brakes, as you will lose brake pressure—and effectiveness—with each pump.
- Put the car in neutral and apply the brakes with steady pressure.
- Steer the car to the side of the road as the vehicle begins slowing down.
- Turn off the engine when the car comes to a stop.
Defective Accelerator Recalls
Though accidents caused by defective or stuck accelerators are far from everyday occurrences, they do happen. In fact, more than 100 incidents of unintended acceleration were linked to Toyota and Lexus vehicles between 2006 and 2009, which led Toyota to voluntarily recall more than six million vehicles in 2010 due to defective accelerators or floor mats.
The recall affected some of the automaker's most popular vehicles, including the 2009-2010 Avalon, the 2007-2010 Tundra, the 2007-2010 Camry, the 2009-2010 Corolla, the 2009-2010 RAV4, the 2010 Highlander, and others.
Do You Need a Product Liability Lawyer?
Automakers have a responsibility to ensure that the vehicles they manufacture and sell are free of dangerous defects. When automakers fail to uphold this responsibility, injuries and deaths can be the result.
If you and your family were involved in an accident caused by a defective accelerator that stuck to the floor, you may be facing very serious injuries and significant property damage, or even grappling with the senseless loss of a loved one. You should not have to bear the financial consequences of such an accident on your own, and may be eligible for compensation.
Contact the Morris James Personal Injury Lawyers today to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case with an experienced legal professional.