May 30

Pedal Confusion

All About Pedal Confusion and its Dangers 

Out of all the possible driving hazards, none are quite as frightening to imagine as pedal confusion. It’s one small mistake that can have a widespread ripple effect of consequences. That is why at-risk parties need to be as educated as possible on the matter, both as an affected person or a loved one. 

To get started, let’s cover our bases. Just what is pedal confusion?

Just as the name suggests, it’s when someone either gets the gas pedal confused for the brake, or vice versa. As a result, they’ll slow down or stop when they meant to go forward or speed up when they meant to stop. 

So why does this happen? 

It’s commonly thought of as a result of aging. While significant decline does start after 65, pedal confusion is not par for the course. In fact, it often points to a deeper cognitive issue, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s, especially if it happens more than once. 

Woman with Pedal Confusion

Now, we delve into the heaviest piece of this conversation: What are the potential consequences of Pedal Confusion?

Pedal confusion, while an honest mistake, is one of the gravest ones a person could make. It could result in a crash, whether by running into someone or stopping suddenly with a car behind them, or even hitting a pedestrian. The emotional harm this would cause a well-meaning person would be irreparable. 

Even if it’s nothing that extreme, there are still legal ramifications to worry about, as the person could end up violating traffic laws. For instance, they accidentally run a stop sign or a red light. What’s worse, pedal confusion is hard to prove, which gives an already struggling person a weak defense in court. 

So, what can be done about this?

Because of how dangerous this condition is, when it appears, the conversation needs to go to driving alternatives, both for the person and others on the road. However, this does not mean it won’t be difficult for this person to hear and adjust to the circumstances. 

That’s why, if you are a loved one, you must make sure you must set the right tone for this discussion. Let them know this is coming solely from a place of love and concern. Address their fears about losing their independence. Don’t just tell them, “No, that won’t happen.” Give them concrete examples about what will be done to preserve their freedom and self-possession, such as buses and other transportation means. 

Let them know you are not trying to take their dignity away, and this is not something they did wrong. This cannot be stressed enough, because it is so easy for those struggling with this issue to blame themselves. This is not a punishment or an insult, but a measure in protecting them from life-changing events that could cause permanent harm to their body and mind. 


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