Two feet on the pedals of an automatic or one: which is safer?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jun 01, 1992

Dear Tom and Ray:

To settle a small disagreement between my husband and me, could you please give your advice on the following. He uses both feet on the pedals of an automatic car. I was taught it was dangerous to use your left foot on the brake. He said it gives him quicker reaction time. What do you say?

TOM: Well, Linda, the truth is it DOES provide quicker reaction time. Think about it. If you're driving along, and a milk truck pulls out in front of you, it might take you as long as a second to get your foot off the gas pedal and onto the brake. And at 60 mph, you've gone 88 feet in that second!

RAY: But there IS a trade-off. When you place your left foot in front of the brake pedal, you inevitably rest your foot on it. And when you rest your foot on it--even lightly--you're wearing out the brakes.

TOM: Now, your husband may say that his foot is just resting there, and he's not applying any pressure. But I'll bet that's not true. As an experiment, ask him to try driving that way without letting his shoe touch the brake pedal AT ALL. My guess is that he'll be screaming about his aching calves in less than a mile. Because it's very difficult to keep your foot in front of the brake--tilted back--without letting it rest on the pedal.

RAY: On the other hand, if he really feels safer driving that way, and he feels he NEEDS the extra response time, I'd say let him do it. Sure, he may wear out a set of brake pads prematurely, but that's better than having an accident, right?

TOM: Sure. I agree. Just get him one of those bumper stickers that says "I Brake for Animals, Vegetables and Minerals," so that drivers behind him won't be caught off guard by his quick stops.

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