If the brake pedal is on the left in our cars — spoiler alert: it is — then why do we brake with our right foot?
It’s the way we were taught, of course. We have two feet, but we can only use one of them when driving a car. That’s just the way it is. End of story.
But it shouldn’t be, an engineer says. Fargo Forum’s Robin Huebner messes with the way things have always been in presenting us with Trevor Frith, a retired mechanical engineer who says that a lot of accidents could be avoided if we used our left foot for braking.
[Trevor] Frith said right-foot braking is a holdover from when all cars had manual transmissions. Now, when a majority drive vehicles with automatic transmissions, he thinks people simply don’t want to change because that’s how it’s always been done.
In fact, when asked why driving instructors teach right-foot braking, an official with the North Dakota Department of Transportation said, “That’s how it’s been taught.”
Public information officer Jamie Olson went on to say, however, that there are additional risks when people drive with both feet at the same time.
If a driver is stopped with one foot on the brake and the other on the gas and the vehicle is rear-ended, the car could accelerate into the intersection, Olson said. She also said people who drive with both feet tend to “ride” the brake more, which can cause a miscommunication to the driver behind.
“There’s no evidence or statistics that say left-footed braking is safer,” Olson said.
But maybe one of the reasons for that is nobody drives with their left foot.
It takes about a second to move your foot off the accelerator and onto the brake pedal, according to Frith.
“You lose three-quarters of a second,” Frith said. “By then, the vehicle has gone another 30 to 40 feet.”
His website, Left Foot Braking Method, calls for a scientific study of a left-foot braking method.