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In Buffalo, almost 20 cars have hit buildings in last two months

October 13, 2011 |  9:00 am

Brake pedal

What’s up with drivers in western New York?

Since the end of August there have been almost 20 incidents of automobiles crashing into buildings in the Buffalo area, according to local news outlets.

WIVB-TV has even created a Google map of every crash. The incidents include cars piling into an apartment building, a deli, a senior citizens home, a restaurant, a dollar store and a Wendy’s.

Buffalo public radio WBFO-FM did some research into the unusual rash of storefront crashes in such a short time. One expert told the station that the most common cause is “pedal confusion” among drivers of all ages.

That happened in several of the Buffalo-area incidents. In one case, a man was stopping for coffee,  confused the accelerator with the brake, and plowed through the front of a gas station. No one was hurt. However, last weekend, two college students died in a high-speed crash into a local market., which has been closely following the trend under the headline "Mystery," says it's been getting "nearly daily emails" from nervous residents about the accidents, and quoted a commentator on a local forum saying, "Something is suspect about these scenarios and reasons ... "

Certainly, window shopping in the area can be more dangerous than you might expect.


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— Geraldine Baum

Photo: This is a brake pedal. It should not be confused with the accelerator. And yet, it often seems to be. Such mixups are blamed for a rash of crashes in New York. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times