Driving

Driving with both feet: Is it legal?

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When you begin driving, there are a lot of rules thrown at you. Keep your hands at ten and two. Adjust your rearview mirror every time you get in the car. Yellow means speed up so you don’t miss the light (kidding, of course). Another one you likely learned in drivers ed is to only ever use your right foot to hit the brake and the gas. 

There are vastly differing opinions on this subject. Most people can’t imagine driving with both feet, arguing that it’s way too uncomfortable. Others swear up and down that driving with both feet gives them more control over their vehicle. 

So, who’s right? Well, that depends on who you ask. We’ll take a look at the law and a few qualifying opinions so you can make a decision for yourself.

Can you legally drive with both feet?

There is no law on the books that says you can’t drive with both feet. In fact, there are times when it makes more sense to drive with both feet. So, why then do we have this idea that it’s so wrong to do so? 

It boils down mostly to comfort. But there are also safety concerns associated with driving with both feet. Still, no states have laws in place to stop drivers. They do have laws about driving barefoot, though.


Reasons driving with both feet is a terrible idea

one foot

 

There are some obvious reasons driving with two feet is a seriously bad idea for most drivers. It can do damage to your car, you and other drivers on the road. Here are five reasons to avoid driving two-footed. 

It can cause exhaustion

The reason many people simply choose not to use both feet when driving is that it causes your leg that's on the brake to tire quickly. When you have one foot that’s mostly pushing on the gas pedal, your leg won’t get tired nearly as quickly. 

 

It can cause you to hit the wrong pedal

You’ll be in some serious trouble if you accidentally hit the gas when you meant to hit the brake. Having both your feet on the pedals can increase confusion in an emergency situation. Doing so can cause a front or rear-end collision that you’re at fault for. If you use just one foot, it’s easier to control the pedal you’re pushing. 

It can potentially wear out your brake pads

Since driving with your foot hovering over the brake can get tiring quickly, many drivers have a tendency to rest their foot on the brake pedal, creating slight resistance and constant pressure on the brakes. This can cause your brake pads to wear out quickly. Unfortunately, this isn’t the cheapest fix, either. On average, you’ll be spending between $115 and $270 per axle.  

Cars are designed for single-foot driving

If you’ve ever tried to drive with both feet in an automatic car, you’ll likely find that it’s extremely uncomfortable for any long period of time. I gave it a shot when I started writing this piece, just to see, and I found that my left leg was way over to the right and it got tired in a matter of seconds. Most cars are designed with single-foot drivers in mind, so driving in this manner just makes sense most of the time. 

You could fail your driver’s test

Since there isn’t a law that explicitly states you can’t use two feet, you technically shouldn’t fail your driver’s test specifically for this reason. That doesn’t mean your tester will be happy, though. They’ll likely be watching extra closely, knowing that driving with two feet can lead to more errors. Plus, some may fail you simply because you’re practicing unsafe driving.


When driving with both feet makes sense

racecar driver

 

At the end of the day, because there are no legal measures in place, it’s up to the driver and their preference whether or not they drive with both feet. That said, since there are safety concerns associated with two-footed driving, there are really only three times you should consider driving with both feet:

When you’re driving a car with a manual transmission

Although manual cars are quickly becoming less popular, they are some of the only cars where you need two feet to drive. While the right foot is controlling the brake and the gas pedal, the left one will be on the clutch pedal. 

If you’re driving a race car

Many race car drivers, Formula 1 drivers, in particular, use two feet when racing. Since they’re going at such elevated speeds, using one foot for the brake and one foot for the gas actually allows for more control. Plus, race car drivers aren’t too concerned with wearing out their brake pads like a regular driver with a commuter car would be. 

If you’re truly 100% comfortable when driving

Driving with two feet shouldn’t be something you do just because you want to tick off your driving instructor or impress your friends. But there isn’t a law in place for a reason. If you find that driving with two feet improves your performance, go ahead and continue to do so. Just recognize that there is some risk involved.


Expert opinions on driving with both feet

Any person who has spent a lot of time training people how to be safe on the road is likely to tell you not to drive with both feet. I was told by my driver's ed teacher, the instructor and the tester when I went for my license. Like many things in the world, while it is legal technically, driving with two feet simply shouldn’t be done in most cases. 

For example, in Florida, where there is no law about driving with both feet, it’s still not the safest, according to Trooper Steve Montiero. “People panic. Things happen…Slamming both pedals will not cause your car to stop,” Montiero rightfully pointed out in an interview he gave to clickorlando.com

All this being said, there are still some experts that swear by two-footed driving. Richard A. Schmidt, a UCLA psychologist has long argued that driving with two feet can solve the problem of people accidentally hitting the wrong pedal during an emergency. He argues that, if one foot is solely designated to the brake and the other to the gas, you can train your brain to never hit the opposite pedal. In turn, your brain only connects your left foot to your brake and your right foot to the gas.

Even Schmidt, however, recognizes that driving with one foot has its benefits. As things stand today, it’s simply up to the driver to understand the risks and make a decision that works best for their safety and the safety of others.

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