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Left-foot braking is the technique of using the left foot to operate the brake pedal in an automobile, leaving the right foot dedicated to the throttle pedal.[1] It contrasts with the practice of using the left foot to operate the clutch pedal, leaving the right foot to share the duties of controlling both brake and accelerator pedals.

At its most basic purpose, left-foot braking can be used to decrease the time spent moving the right foot between the brake and throttle pedals, and can also be used to control load transfer.[1]

It is most commonly used in auto racing (simultaneous gas and brake keeps turbo pressure and reduces turbo lag), but is also used by some drivers for use with an automatic transmission or in some electric cars, as the left foot is not needed to operate a clutch pedal.

Racing and rallying[edit]

Karts, many open wheelers, and some modern road cars (cars that are mounted with automatic transmission or semi-automatic transmission as used in motorsports such as Formula One), have no foot-operated clutch, and so allow the driver to use their left foot to brake.

One common race situation that requires left-foot braking is when a racer is cornering under power. If the driver doesn't want to lift off the throttle, potentially causing trailing-throttle oversteer, left-foot braking can induce a mild oversteer situation, and help the car "tuck", or turn-in better. Mild left-foot braking can also help reduce understeer.[2]

In rallying left-foot braking is very beneficial, especially to front-wheel drive vehicles.[3][4] It is closely related to the handbrake turn, but involves locking the rear wheels using the foot brake (retarding actually, to reduce traction, rarely fully locking - best considered a misapplication), which is set up to apply a significant pressure bias to the rear brakes. The vehicle is balanced using engine power by use of the accelerator pedal, operated by the right foot. The left foot is thus brought into play to operate the brake. It is not as necessary to use this technique with rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive rally vehicles because they can be easily turned rapidly by using excess power to the wheels and the use of opposite lock steering, however the technique is still beneficial when the driver needs to decelerate and slide at the same time. In rear wheel drive, left foot braking can be used when the car is at opposite lock and about to spin. Using throttle and brake will lock the front tires but not the rears, thus giving the rears more traction and bringing the front end around.

Finnish rally legend Flying Finn Rauno Aaltonen used left-foot braking as a driving style in rallying when he competed for Saab in the 1950s.[5][citation needed]

When left foot braking is used to apply the brake and the throttle at the same time it is very hard on the car, causing extra wear on the transmission and brakes in particular.[6]

In restrictor plate NASCAR events, drivers were known to left-foot-brake at times, particularly in heavy traffic situations. Rather than lift off the throttle, which could lose considerable power and speed (due to the restrictor plates), a mild tap of the brakes while the right foot was still planted flat on the accelerator, could help avoid contact and bump drafting.

This technique should not be confused with heel-and-toe, which is another driving technique.

Road use[edit]

Many commentators advise against the use of left-foot braking while driving on public roads.[7][8]

However, some commentators do recommend left-foot braking as routine practice when driving vehicles fitted with an automatic transmission, when maneuvering at low speeds.[9]

Proponents of the technique note that in low-speed maneuvers, a driver of a vehicle with a manual transmission will usually keep a foot poised over the clutch pedal, ready to disengage power when the vehicle nears an obstacle. This means that disengagement is also possible in the event of malfunction such as an engine surge. However, the absence of a clutch on a vehicle with automatic transmission means that there is no such safety override, unless the driver has a foot poised over the brake pedal.[9]

Critics of the technique suggest that it can cause confusion when switching to or from a vehicle with a manual transmission,[7] and that it is difficult to achieve the necessary sensitivity to brake smoothly when one's left foot is accustomed to operating a clutch pedal.[8]

In popular culture[edit]

Sammy Hagar describes using the technique in "I Can't Drive 55", from his 1984 album VOA.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Team O'Neil Rally School & Car Control Center | Press". Team-oneil.com. Retrieved 2009-05-04. 
  2. ^ "Left Foot Braking In Front Wheel Drive, Rally Racing News". Rallyracingnews.com. Retrieved 2009-05-04. 
  3. ^ Dave Coleman. "We join the reigning champion team...and drive the junior car". sportcompactcarweb.com. Retrieved 2007-10-10. 
  4. ^ "How to left foot brake" (PDF) (2). Rally Talk. February 2005. p. 5. Retrieved 2007-10-10. 
  5. ^ "Driving Legends". theitalianjob.com. Retrieved 2009-10-25. 
  6. ^ "How the turbo Anti-Lag System works". rallycars.com. Retrieved 2007-10-10. 
  7. ^ a b "Frequently asked question: Why can’t I use the left foot for braking in an automatic car?". driving-school.com.au. Archived from the original on 2007-04-29. Retrieved 2007-10-10.  (from internet archive)
  8. ^ a b "Ask Ripley". The Daily Telegraph. May 2001. Retrieved 2007-10-10. It is true that some drivers with automatic gearboxes use left-foot braking to good effect but, as a general rule, it is difficult to achieve the necessary sensitivity to brake smoothly when your left foot is used to operating a clutch pedal. 
  9. ^ a b "Driving automatics safely: Why do you repeatedly advocate left foot braking of automatic cars?". HonestJohn.co.uk. Retrieved 2007-10-11. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • Ross Bentley (1998). Speed Secrets: Professional Race Driving Techniques. Osceola, WI, USA: MBI Pub. Co. ISBN 0-7603-0518-8. 
  • Henry A. Watts (1989). Secrets of Solo Racing: Expert Techniques for Autocrossing and Time Trials. Sunnyvale, Calif.: Loki Pub. Co. ISBN 0-9620573-1-2. 

External links[edit]


Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Left-foot_braking — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.
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224 news items

Jalopnik

Jalopnik
Thu, 23 Jul 2015 08:08:08 -0700

Left foot braking is a great driving technique to master when on a rally stage or on track but when it comes using this technique to keep your car alive when you come to a stop? Well, I've been there and it's no simple feat. Reader InfinityAero tells ...

Autocar

Autocar
Wed, 22 Jul 2015 13:09:10 -0700

To avoid both of those niggles there's an automatic option – a six-speed torque converter unit – which is okay on the road and has well-spaced pedals for left-foot braking. But while it's relatively quick and responsive to shift, it lacks the ...

Cars Guide

Cars Guide
Tue, 14 Jul 2015 18:31:44 -0700

If you use the added safety provided by left-foot braking foot parking brakes are even worse because you need to juggle feet to get the parking brake off and the Carnival moving. Presumably the parking brake is like this to suit the Americans ...
 
Telegraph.co.uk
Wed, 03 Nov 2010 08:00:56 -0700

I note your frequent advice to use left-foot braking in automatics. Like many of your readers, I suspect, I drove both automatic and manual cars and switch constantly between the two. Right-footed braking avoids any possibility of confusion in my ...
 
Telegraph.co.uk
Thu, 19 Aug 2010 22:31:11 -0700

You seem to be stressing the use of left foot braking whilst manoeuvring only, where I can see your point if you have to use the accelerator. However, all my automatics over thirty years have engaged drive at idle, which is why the brakes have to be on ...

GQ.com

GQ.com
Fri, 06 Mar 2015 06:09:38 -0800

"Left-foot braking is when you keep your foot on the throttle while you brake, which you don't do normally in road cars. You'll also see that the front wheels of an F1 car are pitched in slightly - that's the camber. That helps the car to load into a ...
 
Telegraph.co.uk
Thu, 04 Jun 2015 10:37:30 -0700

He did not slow for bends and developed techniques of car control using left-foot braking as he drove – a “power-on technique” as he called it. Of his high-speed driving on vertiginous Alpine passes, Carlsson once observed: “They have deep ditches in ...
 
Marin Independent Journal
Sat, 27 Jun 2015 19:15:00 -0700

With a car set up for left-foot braking, the pedals were too far apart for old-school heel-and-toe braking. And that took its toll on Smith. “It was tough. It was hurting. Half way through the race I started right-foot braking a lot,” Smith said. He ...
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