Growing up I saw my parents do many things that I find I do now myself. I think that’s a pretty common thing in most of our lives. They of course were a big influence in our adult lives. That also includes how they drove when you were a kid.
I remember watching my dad drive and thought he was a good driver. He saw many things early and was able to avoid tough situations. I also noticed he used his left foot on the brake and his right foot on the gas. I thought that was normal, so when I was 16 years old and beginning my driving lessons, I did the same thing, until my driving instructor corrected me. I didn’t think there was a big deal with this technique until I became a driving instructor seven years after becoming a licensed driver.
The driver in this photo was most likely doing the same thing as my dad did. His left foot was resting against the brake pedal with anticipation of having to brake. A couple of issues here; first he was wearing down his brakes with the constant friction against the brake pads. Second; he was confusing the drivers behind him. How would they know if he was actually braking or still riding the brakes? It may be too late if he stops in an emergency for a child running out because his warning lights were on the entire time.
Here’s the main problem about left foot braking, it doesn’t stop you as quick as you think it does in an emergency. With the human emotions taking a big part in our driving skills, our right foot would continue to press the gas pedal, even slightly, while our left toot hits the brake pedal. It counter-balances our need to stop quickly.
I’ve had students from Young Drivers of Canada who tried to do the same thing. I had to show them it didn’t work as well as they thought. As the saying goes, actions prove louder than words. They had to see for themselves. We do emergency braking in a controlled environment at Young Drivers of Canada so I had the student apply the brakes with their left foot when I suddenly commanded “STOP!” at a specific speed and location. I measured their stopping distance and then had them try it again with their right foot applying the brakes. Their stopping distance was hugely improved. I never had to remind them again about only using their right foot on the pedals.
The main difference for an improved stopping distance was their left foot was able to counter balance their weight transfer so they had more pressure to apply into their braking. If your left foot is placed up against the firewall of the vehicle, it can allow you to push yourself back in your seat. That will then allow you to press harder against the brake pedal in an emergency. Sit in your vehicle while parked and try this. You will automatically feel the difference in leg strength when you apply the brake this way.
My dad still taught me a lot of things I use in my life to this very day, but braking isn’t one of them. Sorry dad.