Driver training experts contacted by The Star agreed that it’s best to use your right foot for the gas and brake pedals – and that’s how they instruct their students.
“We teach our students to use their right foot with their left foot against the wall,” said Marium Malik, driving instructor at All Nations Driving School, which has six teaching locations in the GTA.
“The reason for not using both feet is that there is more chance of confusion in an emergency situation. If you make the mistake of stepping on the accelerator instead of the brake, you risk end up in a more serious collision.
“When you use both feet, you could use your brakes, which is not good for your car’s brakes because they wear out faster. You’ll also confuse drivers behind you when your brake lights go on and off, and that’s not safe driving,” said Malik, who has been teaching driving for about 20 years.
The same instruction policy applies to instructors at Teen Drivers of Canada, the nation’s largest driver training organization, which has been in business since 1970 and has more than 140 facilities across Canada.
“If you see someone with their brake lights on as they move forward, I can almost guarantee they’re using their left foot to brake,” said Angelo DiCicco, general manager of YDC in Toronto.
“A few times a year, I help older people or older drivers, who still believe in this fallacy that left foot braking saves time and makes the ride smoother.
“Typically we take them to an off-road location like our forward driving center in Markham where we’ll have them do the same maneuver with right foot and left foot braking,” he added.
DiCicco said YDC also uses vehicles modified with a left foot accelerator to train stroke victims who cannot use their right foot to drive.
“Trying to train the left foot to use the brake and throttle is tedious, and it takes a lot of practice, so I’m not saying it can’t be done, but it doesn’t make sense, because the people end up pushing the accelerator and the brake at the same time.
“It’s a really bad habit for the environment because of brake wear and fuel consumption which contribute to air pollution, and you can’t act as quickly or as efficiently, especially if you apply the throttle and brake at the same time,” DiCicco pointed out.
While the Formula1-Dictionary.net website states that “left foot braking is used primarily in front-wheel-drive cars and comes in handy in high-speed corners,” a technique used by racers for years, it is difficult to find a driving school that accepts, unless of course it’s a speed school.
The Canadian Automobile Association (CAA), the national road safety advocate and provider of roadside assistance and a range of travel and auto insurance services, also has a driver training arm, which considers the left foot braking like a no-no.
“Left-foot braking is not part of the driver training process, nor is it something most people would advise,” said Teresa Di Felice, director of government and community relations and CAA driver training.
“There are a number of reasons, and if someone has tried it before, it’s very uncomfortable if you’re not used to it. It’s not natural, and it’s like you’re right-handed and trying to write with your left hand.
“People who’ve driven go-karts or race cars are more compatible with left-foot braking. And even if you go from a manual transmission and decide to brake with your left foot, it won’t be the same because using a clutch is very different from using a brake,” said Di Felice.
On the other hand, you won’t fail a driving test if you brake with your left foot.
“Left foot braking is not illegal, therefore an applicant would not fail a road test specifically because he used his left foot to brake,” said Bob Nichols of the Department of Transportation. ‘Ontario.
“If however, during a road test, a candidate uses the left foot to brake and becomes confused and presses the wrong pedal and the result is an unsafe action, then the candidate will fail because of the unsafe action.
“Furthermore, if during a road test and the candidate’s braking is irregular, if he brakes late or if he brakes hard, the candidate will accumulate points which could lead to a failure of the test. road,” added Nichols.
And as far as insurance companies are concerned, left foot braking is not considered a factor in accident claims.
“It all comes down to the quality and safety of your ride,” said Pete Karageorgos, director of consumer and industry relations at the Insurance Bureau of Canada.
“From an insurance perspective it doesn’t make a difference and it’s never been an issue that I know of, so we wouldn’t have any data on that.”
Henry Stancu is a reporter for the Toronto Star. To reach him, send an email [email protected] and put their name in the subject line.