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Fatal tragedy highlights dangers of inappropriate driving footwear

Consumer Reports News: August 11, 2011 05:23 PM

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Tragedy befell Voorheesville, New York, yesterday when an SUV drove through a church vestibule, killing three elderly women. The Toyota Highlander was driven by a 55-year-old woman who told investigators her flip-flop fell off while driving, according to Fox23 News. (View video report.)

The driver had just come from dropping her foster child off at an elementary school, when she lost control and drove into a group of women in front of St. Matthew’s Roman Catholic Church. The 2007 Highlander traveled across a parking lot before striking the ladies, then continued into the church entranceway. The driver was treated for non-life threatening injuries, and no formal charges have been filed.

Voorheesville-tragedy-St-Matthews-Church.jpgThis horrible incident highlights two important things:

Wearing appropriate footwear while driving is critical. Driving barefoot, with flip-flops, or oversized boots can create unnecessary risks, ranging from changing the basic pedal feel to chancing entrapment or pedal misapplication. As we wrote in our summer driving tips recently: Flip-flops are not safe behind the wheel. During summer months especially, when wearing sandals, flip-flops, and other slide-on footwear is common, keep a pair of sneakers in the car for driving.

The other point is that unintended acceleration incidents often point directly at driver error. That this driver was able to lose control on a sleepy, local street and crash into the front of a church surrounded by parking lots is hard to fathom. (See the Google map.) The ongoing investigation will provide more details, but from all accounts, this appears to have been highly avoidable.

Remember, a car can be dangerous to occupants, fellow motorists, and even pedestrians, and it should be handled responsibly.

Three dead in Voorheesville accident [Fox23 News]
Errant Vehicle Kills 3 Women Outside Albany [NY Times]
3 Women Killed By SUV In Gruesome Voorheesville, New York Crash [Huffington Post]

Jeff Bartlett

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