Some 16,000 deaths could be prevented each year simply by preventing pedal error. Motor vehicle crashes are the fifth leading cause of accidental death in the United States each year, according to statistics from the National Safety Council. The most heartbreaking factor in that research is the fact that many of these fatal accidents are entirely preventable. Among the most easily preventable cases are those involving pedal error – a top contributing factor in some 16,000 fatal crashes annually, according to research by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. Pedal error occurs when a driver mistakes an automobile’s accelerator for the brake, causing a vehicle to lurch forward or backward unexpectedly. This poses serious risk to fellow passengers, drivers and passengers of other vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists sharing the roadways. On average, drivers press down on their vehicles’ brakes upward of 1 million times per year. That’s a lot of opportunity for disaster. To help prevent a pedal error-involved accident, Harrell and Harrell offers these tips: Choose lightweight, flat-soled footwear for driving. Skip flip-flops, high heels or heavy boots. Know your brake pedal’s capabilities. Many modern vehicles have adjustable pedals, which means placement can be modified for very short or tall drivers. Minimize distractions by shutting off mobile phones, turning down the radio and asking passengers – particularly active children – to keep calm and quiet throughout the drive. Repeated movements over a period of time develop what is known as “muscle memory.” By consistently aiming your foot at the center of the brake pedal, you’ll develop muscle memory that helps to ensure you won’t miss should you be forced to hit the brake quickly or unexpectedly. If you’re driving a new or otherwise unfamiliar vehicle, take extra time and caution to adjust the seat, mirrors and steering wheel and to familiarize yourself with the unique features and feel of the car. If you or your dependents suffer injury or loss in a vehicle crash caused by someone else’s negligence, no matter the cause, you may be entitled to compensation. Call 800-251-1111 to speak with an auto accident attorney with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell.