Ask NRMA: Is left foot braking the right choice?

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

Although many professional race drivers use their left foot to brake when in competition, the use of both feet is not a recommended for day-to-day driving.

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 driver training 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.

Today's modern vehicles, can also tell when both pedals are pressed, and defaults that the driver is wanting to stop. This can stop the throttle working, reducing to an idle as most are drive by wire with no mechanical connection to the engine. Once the brake has been released, the car will accelerate if the throttle is pressed again after a small delay.   

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