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Left Foot Braking

In your newspaper column, you stated that the only negative about left foot braking is that you wear out your brakes prematurely. Actually, the worst thing about left foot braking is that, because you’re constantly riding the brake pedal, your brake lights are always on and no one behind you can tell when you’re braking. If you brake with your left foot, you are setting yourself up to get rear-ended.

This post has been moved to the new Car Talk Discussion Area, by a Car Talk Lackey. The original poster is Tiernanjp.

Braking with the left foot does NOT wear out the brakes any faster than using the right foot. Riding the brake pedal will, but there is no reason to do so. The biggest drawback I have found in 50+ years of left foot braking occurs when you switch from an automatic to a standard tranny and a sudden move on the clutch provides little braking action. Can be exciting.

Agreed. In 40 years of driving, I’ve braked with my left foot. It seems logical and may be faster. Brake wear is not a problem since in all that time, I’ve never ridden the brakes.

If you have weak legs it may be better to use the left foot while in a left curve before a stop sign. It’s a lot easier for me. I have one such place near home.

We had this question a few months ago. I have large feet, and since I always drive an automatic, have for many years used my right foot on the throttle, and my left foot on the brake. It simply takes too long to move my foot back and forth, and I have at times got my foot tangled up which is the ultimate of bad news if there is an emergency.

The usual criticisms, such as riding the brake are not valid. That is bad driving, not left foot problems. On my car mostly driven cross country, touching the brakes cancels the cruise control and I guarantee you that simply does not happen.

But, covering that brake with my left foot in close situations, cuts my response time dramatically.

When one first makes the change, there may be a reflex error trying to get the right foot there, because that is what you are used to. But, that goes away after a couple weeks. And, I have been doing it for decades.

When I lived in Fla. many older folks from up North drove with their brake lights on and drove slowly in the fast lane. I think some were taught to drive with the left foot on the brake. I think some race drivers do this but for the average motorist, if that if brake light is on or on intermittently, that is a rear ender ready to happen. Makes other drivers nervous.

This topic was discussed before here:

Actually, none of the above has to be true. I do left foot braking but leave my foot off the brake until I need it. Not a difficult concept. It’s still faster in an emergency 'cause your left foot is already moving as you start to lift your right foot off the gas.

While most of the comments are true, there is an inordinate number of people that cannot grasp the concept of braking wiht the left foot without keeping their foot on the brake pedal, thereby keeping the bakelights on, and as stated, causing other folks to not be able to tell when the breaking is real or not. Any normal person should be able to adequately respond using their right foot for gas and brake.

Can’t brake with the left foot if you’re driving a proper car, with a manual transmission. :slight_smile:

Seriously, though – when I had a severe injury to my right ankle several years ago, I used my left foot for both accellerating and braking. Took a few days to get the “touch,” but worked fine once I got used to it. However I wouldn’t recommend using right for gas and left for brake under normal circumstances – in fact, I believe most driving schools frown on it and you’ll fail your driving test in many states if you do it.


Yeah I’ve been braking with my left foot too for 40 years. In drivers training he told me to use my right foot for class then I could do whatever I wanted. I don’t ride the brakes but I do believe I can respond faster. I have no trouble going from automatic to straight and I think most of the arguement against is pure bunk.

Even if you don’t ride the brake with your left foot, there is a risk of pushing the brake and accelerator at the same time in a panic situation. Not always and not by most, but possible.

In 46 years of driving, all of my cars have had four or five speed manual transmissions. Nevertheless, I am strongly considering the purchase of an Audi equipped with their DSG transmission. (This is a six speed manual transmission shifted by a computer. There is no clutch pedal.) If I do buy it, I plan to retrain myself to brake with my left foot. With only two pedals, dedicating the left foot to the brake and the right foot to the accelerator is so obviously elegant. As others have pointed out, it requires self discipline to learn to use them alternately, not simultaneously. Then again, for a car person, driving well is its own reward.

I agree. I have been left foot braking for 35 years and I don’t ride the brakes. I keep my left foot on the floor until I’m ready to brake. It is faster with the left foot. I started left foot braking when I was having trouble with my appendix and there was a lot of pain with my right foot.

If you need to take evasive action, you will have more control if your left foot is on the dead pedal. If you swerve and have both feet near pedals, nothing is going to hold you in a straight position, meaning you can’t control your car as well.

Furthermore, in panic situations, people tend to mash down both feet hard. If your right foot is covering the gas instead of the brake…oops! There are several good reasons why they tell you in driver education to never brake with your left foot. It’s a valid technique in some forms of racing, but takes years of practice, and has no business on the street.

It seems to me that left foot braking would not have any advantage - as in faster response time - unless you were riding the brake (a bad thing). The left foot is not going to get to the brake pedal any faster than the right foot unless the left foot is already on the pedal.

I don’t see anything wrong with left foot braking, but I don’t see any advantage either.

Also any normal person can keep the left foot in front of the brake pedal without pressing it.

Several of us have been doing this for years without incident. I suspect those who speak so strongly against it have simply never done it, and imagine all sorts of things that really don’t happen except with careless drivers who mess up whether they are braking with right foot or left foot. Plus there seems to be a strong anal contingent on this URL.

I just drove last week through Texcoco, a town adjacent to Mexico City, and I assure you I kept my left foot over the brake to minimize foot movement time. Those vehicles typically drive with a few inches between cars and any advantage is good.

There is actually only one good reason not to brake with the left foot, and that has to do with the need for some folks to switch back and forth with manual transmissions, so it probably is a good thing for driving schools to teach that which allows for both types. Although I noticed when my kids took driver’s ed they had no chance to drive a manual; all the cars had automatics. I don’t know if it is this way all over, only what they told me.

Like others who have driven for years, braking with the left feet, I do not need to change transmission types back and forth. The same large feet which has made it imperative for me to brake with my left foot also makes it extremely desirable for me to not drive with a manual transmission.

You state that it takes years to learn to drive properly that way. I have been doing it since 1973 when I first got an automatic. How many more years in your opinion do you think it will take me to figure it out?

It actually only takes two weeks to get a new habit in your reflex system, not the fictional years you assert. That means one must drive slowly with care for two weeks, and then any imaginary risk you guys pretend to know about is gone.

With age, we all learn different things we find important. My siblings are all know-it-alls. They not only know everything that exists; they also know a lot that doesn’t exist. Really smart people. From watching them and listening to them in my younger years, I learned if I want to know about something, anything, I can learn more from the people who have actually done it than from people who say it can’t be done.

In this topic, I note that everyone here who has actually done it for any length of time says no problem. Everyone who admits they have never tried it says it is dangerous and should not be done, and their negative examples involve people who are dangerous drivers in any case. That pretty well sums up the topic for me.

“You state that it takes years to learn to drive properly that way. I have been doing it since 1973 when I first got an automatic. How many more years in your opinion do you think it will take me to figure it out?”

It is a valid racing technique used to pivot the car around tight corners, and if you didn’t already know that, you don’t know how to do it. What you have been doing since 1973 is just bad driving.