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I have had two identical car accidents which involved my stepping on the accelerator instead of the brake as I was slowly easing into a parking spot. In both cases, the cars were totaled, even though I was going at a very slow speed. I am not elderly or impaired in any way, nor was I distracted during both incidents. I am otherwise a decent driver who drives cautiously, particularly because I am usually transporting my 7 year old. My shoe did not get stuck on the floor mat and neither was I driving a Toyota or any other type of vehicle associated with sudden acceleration (the first vehicle was an old Crown Vic and the second a 1991 Aurora Oldsmobile). I simply instinctively pressed on the wrong pedal and have no idea why. I am now terrified to drive again. What can I do to prevent a recurrence of this type of accident?

Answers from the Automotive Experts

Colleen McGee, Driving Instructor at Americas Driving School Hi Liz! Are you a fairly new driver? It sounds to me like you might need some practice coming into small tight areas (parking spaces) Remember that coming into any parking stall is going to require a speed just above 0 MPH. Not more, not less. Since it is such a slow speed you should not need your foot on the gas pedal at all once you start your turn into the stall, rather your foot should be covering the brake with just enough pressure to control your vehicle at this slow speed. The only exception might be parking on an uphill slope, then you will need a little gas for momentum. If you realize your foot should be on the brake, but it goes to the gas, and you aren*t coming in uphill, it may be you are just a bit nervous coming into a tight area with your vehicle. I would suggest you go into an empty parking lot and practice coming into the stall while using your brake to control your speed and not going to the gas pedal at all. Doing this about 20-30 minutes every night for a week should help you solve this problem. In the meantime, try having your car in first gear while coming into a stall.It will keep your car from going so fast if you accidentally press the gas. Check out this page for more parking tips! Hope this helps! Sincerely, Colleen

Miriam Schottland, CEO at Drivelab Hi Liz, I suggest you practice correct placement of your foot on the car floor. Always keep your heel on the floor (about midway between the gas pedal and the brake pedal) and use it as a pivot between the two pedals. That way, your foot can instinctively know which pedal it is on. When our foot is slightly to the left, it is on the gas, and slightly on the right, it is on the brake. If you lift your whole leg from the gas to brake, then your foot has no reference point and you can mistakenly get back on the gas. Never lift your whole leg,use your ankle muscles to move your foot, using your heel as the pivot point. I hope this helps!

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