Two feet, part two


Steering You Right with Sharon Peters

I wrote a few weeks back about two-foot driving — using the right foot to accelerate and the left foot to brake.
Driving instructors and many other experts, including many accident cops and investigators advise against regular folks (as opposed to race-car drivers) using the two-foot method of driving. And so do I, on the grounds that in a crisis there’s a chance of feet getting tangled or both feet slamming down at the same time on both pedals or other brain blips that result in calamity.
One reader pointed out that the reader may well have been “taught by the military (since) back in the ’50s and ’60s it was mandatory training for U.S. military personnel involved with motor transport and government vehicles for safety reasons.”
Wherever they learned both-feet driving, nearly half of the writers think it’s silly to suggest that people can’t process info quickly enough to make both sides of their body do exactly as they wish.
As one wrote: “I walk on two feet. I eat with two hands. I am a fan of music, which is played with two hands, and sometimes with hands and feet. Why not assume the two-footed driver falls into a similar category?”
Reasonable argument. And artfully stated.
But I respectfully disagree. Rarely is the activity of eating, playing music, or even walking accompanied by panic or fear. My point was and is that when drivers find themselves in perilous situations, multi-step and competing-movement processing increases the risk of error and possible disaster.
Some people do the two-foot driving routine for decades without problem. Some get into trouble with it. This foot-foul-up phenomenon can impact people of any age, but experts say it’s mostly baby boomers and older who do two-footed pedal-pushing, so when there’s an accident attributed to that, it’s often in over-50 folks.
Moreover, when reflex slowing occurs with age, the two-footed approach may prove even more risky.
Somewhat more than half the e-mail writers said the two-footed approach is fundamentally dangerous, and most echoed the words of a California reader who wrote: “If a person’s left foot is quicker than the right, there is a possibility of pushing the right foot down on the accelerator at the same time the left foot is trying to use the brake. Dumb.”
Still, each person must decide if it’s safer to try to reprogram reactions or to stick with habit. As one 68-year-old driver who has been a two-footed driver for 50 years ruminated, “Do you think the mental process would be easier and safer to try to retrain our brains to drive with one foot?”
I can’t answer that, of course. Like every effort to realign muscle memory, it would require diligent and repetitive practice in no-stress situations.
© CTW Features
What’s your question? Sharon Peters would like to hear about what’s on your mind when it comes to caring for, driving and repairing your vehicle. Email [email protected].