Tom and Ray disagree about two-footed driving.

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Feb 01, 1993

Dear Tom and Ray:

Boy, did you guys blow it with your answer about "two foot driving." You told an older reader it was OK to use his left foot for braking and his right foot for accelerating on a car with automatic transmission. You warned him not to rest his left foot on the brake, because he would wear the brakes out too quickly. But the biggest problem with two foot driving is not that the brakes wear out, but that the brake lights are always on! The extra micro-second gained by the driver trying to stop is far overshadowed by the one or two seconds the guy behind him loses trying to figure out if the other guy's actually stopping this time. A brake light is more than decoration, and your use of it (or unnecessary overuse of it) can determine whether or not you have an 18-wheeler parked in your back seat. Please tell people NOT to drive with two feet.

TOM: It IS a complicated issue, Michael, But I still think it's OK for older people to drive with two feet. What I said was it's OK as long as you DON'T rest your left foot on the brake pedal. If you don't rest your left foot on the brake pedal, your brakes won't wear out prematurely AND your brake lights won't be flickering.

RAY: I disagree. I think my brother has put both feet in his mouth on this one (and by the way, about 500 of our readers agree with me). In principle, my brother is right--as long as you don't rest your left foot on the brake, driving with two feet can help you stop a little more quickly. But in reality, it's virtually impossible to keep your left foot from resting on the brake pedal. And the inevitable result is a dangerous flickering brake light.

TOM: Yeah, but so what? If you were driving behind some Nervous Nellie who was jumping on the brake pedal all the time, wouldn't you want some sort of warning? That's what the flickering brake light is. If you see a brake light flashing on and off, that's like a little neon sign in the back window that says "Warning: I break for absolutely everything. Stay back!" That's your signal to be very careful.

RAY: Oh, come on! Aside from annoying other drivers, two footed drivers can accidently step on both pedals in an emergency. I don't think it's something we should encourage.

TOM: I disagree. I think we need to hear from more people about this (especially if they agree with me!). If you have a different point of view--one that's not represented here, write to us and help us out. The jury's still out on which one of us has put his foot in his mouth.

RAY: And how my brother's going to remove both of them.

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