What’s Right: Right or Left Braking?

Left foot braking

When does braking feel like hitting a brick wall?

When you try to apply the brakes using the wrong foot.

For those of us with decades of experience using our right feet to slow down, our left feet might as well be attached to our hips with wet noodles. There’s just no control when it comes to using them to stop a motor vehicle.

The debate about driving with two feet is almost as controversial as the one about which way the toilet paper is supposed to hang on the roll. Proponents of braking with the left are either race car drivers or older folks who cruise down roads with their left foot resting on the pedal and brake lights constantly aglow.

Some new information, though, might begin to make two-foot driving the norm.

Those of us who are used to driving with three pedals can’t brake with our left, because we need it to operate the clutch. Drivers of automatic transmissions, though, can use the left foot to compliment the right and possibly even save lives while doing so.

One article makes the argument that left-foot braking is preferred for the safety benefits alone:

According to Evidence Solutions, eliminating that cumbersome process of going from one pedal to the other can save you 60 feet of stopping distance at roughly 55 mph. So, if your left foot were positioned over the brake pedal, using it to slow the car down would eliminate most of those 0.75 seconds you would have otherwise wasted.

I take issue with the idea that moving your right foot to the brake pedal is in any way “cumbersome,” but I do see how changing your habits could give you that extra second or so to avoid a possibly disastrous collision.

The problem is learning how to operate the brake smoothly with the left foot, because the benefit of a faster reaction will only come when braking with the left is second nature. I’m guessing that 90 percent of drivers would lurch and screech their way along the left-foot learning curve and make driving even more hazardous while doing so.

My advice: Stick with what you know. If you learned to drive by braking with your right, keep doing so. If you learned to brake with your left, don’t quit, just please make sure you don’t rest your foot on the pedal while driving.

What do you think of left-foot braking?

-tgriffith

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