Left foot braking. Is it the right choice?

There is no specific legislation in NSW that says you cannot use your left foot on the brake, but most training organisations don’t recommend this as an ideal driving method for a number of reasons.

left foot braking

BEST FOOT FORWARD: NRMA Safer Driving School recommends the right foot be used for one task at a time when driving.

Although many professional race drivers use their left foot to brake when in competition, the use of both feet is not a recommended day-to-day driving practice we teach through NRMA Safer Driving School.

Learner drivers taught to drive with both feet find it difficult to change the function of the left foot from braking to clutch when using a manual vehicle. Changing and then re-learning a different technique contains an extra degree of difficulty.

NRMA Safer Driving School recommends the right foot be used for one task at a time. When accelerating the right foot is used on the accelerator pedal and when braking the right foot is used on the braking pedal. The left foot is placed on the foot position provided in the foot well of the driver compartment. The left foot can be used on the clutch pedal when changing gears in a manual vehicle.

Our learner drivers are also taught to respond to various potential hazards by:

a) removing the right foot from the accelerator pedal (reducing speed) and

b) placing or ‘covering ‘ the brake pedal to reduce reaction time

When a driver has his right foot covering the brake and a hazard actually eventuates to a situation requiring hard braking, the driver is better and more certainly able to depress the brake pedal to further reduce speed while also bracing himself with his left foot securely in place on the left foot support.

A common reaction for anyone who experiences an unexpected event is to jump or grab. If both feet are placed over various controls it has been found that a driver can jump or press both the accelerator and brake pedal at the same time, causing the vehicle to both accelerate and brake. Whichever control happens to be the strongest will determine whether the car actually stops or continues to stay in motion.

In any case in this occurrence it will take longer for the vehicle to stop. Some computerised vehicles will also transition into ‘limp’ mode because of the driver using both the accelerator pedal and the brake pedal simultaneously.

Do you use your left foot to brake? Hopefully we have provided enough reason for you to change this dangerous habit.

School Zones back in operation

STAY ALERT: School Zones play a critical role in making sure  kids have a safe and happy start to the school holidays.

STAY ALERT: School Zones play a critical role in making sure kids have a safe and happy commute to and from school.

Motorists are being urged to slow down and observe the 40km/h speed limit around school zones, which come back into effect on Monday (18 July) after the school holidays.

The 40km/h school speed zones operate across NSW and ACT at all school sites on gazetted school days (including school development days). Motorists should drive no faster than 40km/h through school zones.

Most school zones operate from 8:00am to 9.30am and from 2.30pm to 4pm on gazetted school days in NSW and from 8am to 4pm in the ACT.

School zones operate and are enforced on pupil free days because pupil free days can vary from school to school. Consistent operation of school zones aims to reduce driver confusion, which improves the safety of school children.

There are a small number of non-standard school zone times in NSW and ACT. They are identified by red/orange school zone signs to show non-standard times. Signs at these schools show the times that apply. Do you find it difficult to keep up with school zone operating times?

Do you have Road Assist from The NRMA? Don’t get caught without it.

To leave a note or not to leave a note?

DECENT PROPOSAL: Sorry note written by Ben Affleck in 2012, image from Daily Mail UK.

DECENT PROPOSAL: Sorry note written by Ben Affleck in 2012, image from Daily Mail UK.

Recently, I witnessed a truck knock the drivers’ side mirror off a parked car. I always wondered how this happened but had never witnessed it before. It was quite dramatic – the mirror flying across the road and glass everywhere.

I’m a fan of the honesty policy and would have been fuming if this had happened to me, so when I realised this truck wasn’t going to stop and leave a note, I took matters into my own hands.

When stopped at the lights, I managed to take down the truck’s registration. Later, when off the road, I contacted a local pub 100 metres from the scene of the accident and asked them to leave a note on the car. They did, I had a call from the police later that afternoon and phone calls from the owner of the vehicle thanking me for taking the time.

I have been told a few times over the last week how nice it was to do this and the owner of the car has been incredibly grateful, which makes me wonder how many people wouldn’t leave a note when hitting a parked car and how many would ignore it if they witnessed an incident.

And so, I did a little research. Back in 2011, NRMA Insurance conducted a survey of 450 NSW drivers and found that a note was left in less than 9 per cent of accidents. 9 per cent!

I’ve previously come back to my parked car and found a window smashed (benefits of living close to several pubs!), family members have come back to their cars with much worse damage including one hit and run that left the car undriveable and when asking around the office, it seems it’s a pretty common offence. In no cases was a note left.

I think it’s time to bring a bit of decency back to our roads.

Would you leave a note if you hit a parked car? And would you leave a note if you witnessed an incident? Share your stories in the comments below!

Do you have Road Assist from The NRMA? Don’t get caught without it.

Keeping your car healthy in winter

Frost Scraper

WINTER IS COMING: There are plenty of maintenance items you can tick off.

How time flies when your car has been running well throughout the summer months. Now the weather has turned cold and you’ve done nothing to it since spring, beyond changing the oil and replacing a tyre. 

Contrary to popular thinking, vehicles do require seasonal attention to be kept safe and dependable. More to the point, their owners may need a seasonal reminder to pay attention to their vehicles needs.

During winter a vehicle’s cooling system takes on a slightly different role and in colder areas the system’s antifreeze stops the coolant from freezing if you’re parking your vehicle overnight.However, if you have been filling your cooling system with water, you may have altered the ratio of water and anti-freeze, making it less effective in doing its job.

To avoid any hassles, you should have your car serviced or checked by an expert. We recommend NRMA MotorServe, which is currently offering a comprehensive winter health check for $39 (was $120), which includes wiper blades. However, there are still plenty of other maintenance items you can tick off yourself.

  1. Check your tyre pressures including the spare. If the load is greater than normal, inflate accordingly using the manufacturer’s recommendation on the tyre placard.
  2. Check the tyres’ tread depth while you’re at it, and if they are close to the wear limiters, consider replacing.
  3. If your windscreen wipers left fine lines on the glass last time you used them, now’s the time to replace the rubber blades and add some windscreen cleaner to the washer bottle. Windscreen wiper blades can deteriorate even on a new car that has been sitting in storage. The rubber in the blades is vulnerable to the elements as well as road contaminants. That’s why blades should be changed periodically, ideally twice a year, as a preventative measure
  4. Give the windscreen a good clean inside. If you’re travelling to alpine regions pack a plastic scraper in your kit to remove ice from the windscreen and door glass. Never use hot water on the glass, and remember, a small stone chip can grow into a large crack as the temperature lowers.
  5. Check that all the lights are operating – especially high beam.
  6. Cold temperatures put additional strain on your battery. If you’re driving an older car and the starter sounds sluggish on start-up on colder mornings, check the age and condition of the battery. Most batteries are maintenance-free these days, but if your battery has caps check the level and top up as necessary. Battery testing, as well as delivery and installation by a qualified technician, is free for NRMA Members.

Has your car ever got caught in cold conditions? Any advice to share? 

- Driving in the snow
- Tips for driving in the snow

 

Think twice on Queen’s Birthday

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We remind motorists that double demerits apply from 10 to 13 June 2016 inclusive. Please drive safely and take extra care on the roads. 

Also, on 4 January 2016 the standard penalty for mobile phone offences rose to four demerit points. Since the end of last year, mobile phone offences have been included in double demerit periods. This means those caught talking or texting illegally while driving during this Queen’s Birthday weekend will incur eight demerit points – a huge amount when the threshold on unrestricted licences is 13 points.

The double demerit point scheme now applies for the following types of offences:

  • Speeding
  • Illegal use of mobile phones
  • Not wearing a seatbelt
  • Riding without a helmet

The scheme is designed to encourage safe and responsible driving. Working in conjunction with financial penalties, demerit points provide a strong incentive to drive within the law.

Double demerit periods were introduced in 1997 in NSW. By law, double demerit periods must be advertised and awareness campaigns are co-ordinated with traditional enforcement and increased police numbers. See the RMS Demerits points page for a full rundown of offences and penalties.

Do you think the Double Demerits scheme is an effective way of preventing dangerous driving?

Do you have Road Assist from The NRMA? Don’t get caught without it.

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