Some experts believe trucks and even buses should use a technology known as a brake transmission shift interlock device, which helps prevent unintentional acceleration. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is one organization that supports the use of this device in larger vehicles. A brake transmission shift interlock device works by requiring that a driver apply the brakes in order to shift out of park. This device, according to experts and the NTSB, helps prevent pedal misapplication, which can cause accidents as drivers shift out of park. Misapplication of the panel takes place when a driver accidentally presses on the accelerator instead of the brake pedal or presses the accelerator and the brake pedal at the same time.
Of course, a brake transmission shift interlock device will not help prevent trucking accidents caused by other issues, such as driver fatigue, driver distraction, drunk driving, and other problems. However, some trucking accidents and bus accidents are caused by drivers who are unfamiliar with a particular vehicle. If the pedals are different from what a specific driver is used to, a brake transmission shift interlock device can help prevent pedal misapplication caused by this unfamiliarity.
The NTSB has requested of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that brake transmission shift interlock devices become mandatory in all larger vehicles that are vulnerable to pedal misapplication by the driver. In addition, experts have asked to be NHTSA to consider pedal design and pedal configurations in larger vehicles to determine whether these issues can contribute to trucking and other large vehicle accidents.
NTSB has also asked the National Association for Pupil Transportation and the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services to educate their drivers about pedal misapplication. In addition, the NTSB has suggested that drivers take refresher training and learn strategies to avoid pedal misapplication. Many in the trucking and bus industries agree with these recommendations, and many people would like to see brake transmission shift interlock devices mandatory on all larger vehicles equipped with air brakes.
Sudden acceleration caused by pedal misapplication can lead to accidents that have serious consequences. Trucking accidents caused by pedal misapplication can lead to brain injuries, fatalities, burn injuries, spinal cord injuries, and other serious damage and loss. The transmission shift interlock devices are not without precedent. The NHTSA has already made such devices mandatory on all automatic transmission cars. This law was passed in 2008 in order to prevent passenger vehicle rollaways.