Left Foot Braking Method

The objective of this site is to inform the general public about an epidemic that has resulted in deaths of and injuries to thousands of pedestrians, cyclists and car occupants each year. We will explain what we feel is the cause of this epidemic, the solution to the epidemic and who we believe does not want this solution to be tested. We then hope the general public will demand those in charge take the necessary steps to eliminate these deaths and injuries.

The Problem

At the time of the introduction of the automatic transmission the automotive world was dominated by men. Little thought was given to the prospect of selling a large number of cars to women. Marketing departments of some automotive manufacturers did recognize that women were coming into the workplace at a greater rate and that one day they might be driving a lot of cars. These marketing departments did consider what changes might be made to automotive designs to appeal to women in terms of glitz and glamour but unfortunately not health and safety.

Not enough research was done to consider what the combination of the old right foot braking and the new automatic transmission would have on women drivers and in fact on all drivers in general. Not enough health and safety research was committed regarding this lethal combination under the following circumstances:

1The driver was wearing high heeled shoes.

2The driver was wearing flip flops

3The driver wasn't wearing any footwear.

4That the driver under the above circumstances would be required to laboriously move their right foot from the gas pedal, up and over to where they thought the brake pedal was and lower it unto the brake pedal, especially in a moment of panic.

Indeed, even if these men had thought only about their own gender, they would have realized that driving shoes for most men had been replaced by construction boots, winter boots, sandals, flip flops, cowboy boots etc, etc. and that this type of footwear would make right foot braking a challenge.

Trying to brake a car under these circumstances to often results in driver Unintended Acceleration Pedal Error (UAPE). Unintended Acceleration may be described as the movement forwards or backwards of an out of control automobile.

Pedal error may be described by using various terms such as pedal misapplication, step over, RFGP (right foot slips off the brake pedal and lands on the gas pedal) etc.

There are two distinct types of UAPE which usually occur in a moment of panic.

Type one involves a situation where the driver attempts to move the right foot from the gas pedal to the brake pedal but the foot misses the brake pedal and lands on the gas pedal. In this situation the driver is aware of the pedal error and attempts to correct the action and may or may not before the crash.

Type two involves a situation where the driver attempts to move the right foot from the gas pedal to the brake pedal but the foot misses the brake pedal and lands on the gas pedal. In this situation the driver is convinced that the right foot is indeed on the brake pedal (but it is in fact on the gas pedal), and continues to press even harder on the brake pedal (now the gas pedal), until the crash occurs. Type two can occur over a period of several seconds and in many instances the driver suffers such trauma that they do not recall what driving error they committed.

All of this is not new. The late Professor Richard A. Schmidt, Ph.D. of UCLA spent years studying Unintended Acceleration (UA). In fact he appeared as an expert witness in many court cases. One of his last papers, Unintended Acceleration: Role of One-Foot and Two - Foot Driving Styles, brings into question the wisdom of right foot braking. To hear an interview with Richard A. Schmidt, search Malcolm Gladwell, Revisionist History, Episode 8, Blame Game.

Simply put, attempting to brake a car equipped with an automatic transmission by braking with the right foot is too complicated for the average driver, male or female, especially in a moment of panic!

To the credit of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and other parties these pedal errors have been partially documented and when their data is extrapolated on a North American basis it is realized that these pedal errors may occur from 11,000 - 40,000 times per day. The data for parking lot crashes alone indicates that each day 3 people are killed (many of them children) and thousand receive life changing injures. No data is available for roadways but the death toll to other pedestrians, cyclists and car occupants because of pedal errors must be thousands upon thousands.

If you have any difficulty believing these statistics, do your own research. Distribute a SECRET ballot to a group of your colleagues. The ballot will simply read, "Has your foot slipped off the brake pedal in the last six months? Yes or No?" Over 70% of those balloted will answer YES!

It will also be of interest to examine the brake pedal of your car or any other car that is equipped with an automatic transmission and is over two years old. Note how the right side of the brake pedal is worn to a greater degree than the left side. This wear pattern represents "near misses" of UAPE.

The prejudice against women drivers has not abated over the years. For example the NHTSA report of 2012 concerning parking lot crashes in North Carolina, resulted in headlines such as, "Women more likely to mistake pedals in parking lot crashes, study finds". The male population grunted and said, of course, women really shouldn't be driving anyway. The NHTSA update report of June 2015 brought out the headlines, "Pedal Pushers Pushing Wrong Pedals Cause 16,000 Crashes per Year"

The real headline should have read, "Antiquated right foot method of braking, developed by men, found to be the main culprit in parking lot crashes"

NHTSA has over the years continued to try to fix the problem. The June 2015 report recommended drivers:

1Get familiar with mirrors, pedals etc.

2Aim for the middle of the brake pedal when braking. (When the driver is mounting a parking curb in a moment of panic we question how this could be carried out)

3Avoid distractions.

4Be Cautious.

5Wear the right shoes. (It isn't going to happen)

Our recommendation is to stop trying to treat the symptoms of the disease and instead get rid of the disease... Get rid of right foot braking on cars equipped with automatic transmissions!

The Solution

The proposed solution is the Left Foot Braking Method.

At this point a note of clarification is required: BRAKING WITH YOUR LEFT FOOT IS NOT, REPEAT NOT THE LEFT FOOT BRAKING METHOD. Perhaps we should change the name to THE SAFER BRAKING METHOD. Many so called experts think we are talking about braking with the driver's left foot technique whatever that is supposed to mean as there are no clear definitions (Ask five different "experts" and you will get five different opinions!) The only similarities between the two are that in both cases the foot that makes contact with the brake pedal is the left foot. This is where the comparison starts and stops!

We think the Left Foot Braking Method (LFBM) does three important things and possibly in the future a fourth.

1It reduces the braking time by 3/4 of a second thus, for example, allowing a car travelling at 40 mph to stop in a distance which is 30 feet less than would be the case if the right foot was used to brake. In fact we would argue that it is probably superior to the automatic braking systems being offered as ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) on some of the latest cars.

2It eliminates Unintended Acceleration Pedal Error (UAPE). That's roughly 17,000 crashes in North America per year mostly in parking lots but an additional undocumented number on roadways.

3It eliminates speeding tickets just like the Google car. Very little use of the gas pedal. Almost all driving done with the cruise control. (The new adaptive cruise controls are claimed to be the best).

4It would eventually remove the need for authorities to constantly keep reducing speed limits in areas such as school zones. This is because we feel that a scientific study will prove that LFBM drivers can for example, stop in a shorter distance at 35 mph than right foot braking drivers can from 30 mph.

For further information please click on the section of the website entitled "What is the Left Foot Braking Method?"

DISCLAIMER: Please note that this site is for information purposes only. It is not intended as an instruction document for the Left Foot Braking Method but instead is restricted to the above objectives.