Unintentional Acceleration Syndrome - honest john
In David Lacey's letter under the very long thread which becomes 'Psychology of the Smell' he mentions drivers of automatics confusing the brake pedal with the accelerator. This crops up in my snail-mail bag on a regular basis. Someone has just had a crash in their automatic which "ran away with them" and they want support from me to blame the car. They never get it. The problem is that any engine might suddenly increase revs at any time, either due to a minor fault, a hiccough, or because the ECU decides it needs to increase revs to protect the cat from unburned fuel. So any driving instructor or any car salesman who tells drivers to only use their right foot when driving an automatic is directly responsible for these accidents. The one and only way to retail full control of an automatic at all times is to use the left foot for the brake (or, if the driver is disabled, to have an extra hand control for the footbrake). Left foot for the brake, right foot for the accelerator prevents the right foot hitting the accelerator pedal with the force needed to brake a car. Last week at a test day I drove 24 cars of anything from about 75bhp to 485bhp. Some were manuals. Some were automatics. If I experienced no confusion at all switching from left foot braking an auto to left foot clutching a manual then it can't be a problem for most people. Yet driving instructors, even so-called "driving experts" and car salesmen all persist in telling automatic drivers to forget their left feet and drive only with the right.

HJ
Re: Unintentional Acceleration Syndrome - Andrew Bairsto
HJ I drive an automatic and and manuel but use only my right foot I have never had a problem changing from one to the other. The people who do are normally people who should not ber driving .You have to be prepared for the odd mechanical whim of cat vehicles and if your not you should not be driving(not you personnally).My auto as I think with most will not start in gear so how on earth fly into harbours and the such like is beyond me they have to have it in the wrong gear and this would apply to a manuel as well.
I do use left foot braking when we go offroading to add to the fun.
Regards Andy Bairsto
Germany
Re: Unintentional Acceleration Syndrome - Brian
I completely agree, left foot braking should be the norm on automatics. Apart from anything else it gives a much quicker change from acceleration to braking which aids safety.
Like HJ, I have had a mix of manual and automatics at the same time and have never had any trouble in changing technique when jumping from one to the other.
Re: Unintentional Acceleration Syndrome - Stuart Bruce
I have to side with Andrew here for normal driving as I cannot control my left foot sensitively enough for smooth progress when braking, but if manoeuvreing in close quarters, esp in a big Yank tank, then I use the left foot as delicacy of operation is not so critical @ <1mph.

Another example of unintentional acceleration occurred years ago. Proud owner of a new Jensen Interceptor ( I said it was years ago) booted it away from some friends he'd visited to show off his new car, only for it to keep on going at the end of the road and go straight over the roundabout. In his accident statement he gave that the throttle stuck.

Accident investigator examines car, cannot find anything wrong and at the end offers to put the car back in the garage. Has to give it a bit of welly as the front suspension is all over the place, and yes you've guessed it, Jensen a little bit more bent. doh!
Re: Unintentional Acceleration Syndrome - honest john
Left foot braking a new MR2 with the steering wheel push-button auto I found I could catch and stay with an EVO VII on a twisty track (yes, EVO VII). Lef footing is a highly effective technique, especially with a steering wheel push button auto. If the car's chassis is up to it, the combination can make up for quite a severe bhp defecit. But my point here was not about how quick you can go with an auto. It's about how safely you can control it. And people new to automatics are plainly being told to do the wrong things, which is why they kill around 20 people a year. That's five more than using mobile phones on the move is alleged to kill. I even had a letter from one chap whose elderly dad, an ex-driving instructor, actually managed to tragically kill himself by hitting the wrong pedal hard with his right foot.

HJ
Re: Unintentional Acceleration Syndrome - Adam Going (Tune-Up Ltd)
Point taken hj, but David also specifically refers to CVT equipped vehicles. I have come accross at least 3 CVT Escort 1.6 Mk.IVs, '90-'91 vintage, which have a CVH engine with DIS ignition and a carburettor, the carb having a throttle position sensor and a throttle stepper motor, all controlled by an ECU on the N/S/F inner wing visually identical to that used on the single-point injected CFi engine. In other words it is a bit of a cross breed / stop-gap model.

In each case the owners complained that the car was trying to "run away" with them, and it was clear that on start up (especially from cold) the stepper motor was opening the throttle well beyond 50% when any load was placed on the engine (such as when engaging "Drive"). At the time I carried out the prescibed "idel speed reset procedure" but without success, so I reffered the first owner back to the Ford dealer as it was still under warranty, and they fitted an earlier Weber carb without all the electronic gizzmos. Problem solved, no cost to owner. Subsequently I have recommended this retro-fit to all owners of cars to this spec.

Regards, Adam
Re: Unintentional Acceleration Syndrome - richard turpin
You can see left foot brakers on the motorway cruising along with brake lights on all the time. I think "the experts" are right and HJ is wrong.
Re: Unintentional Acceleration Syndrome - John Kenyon
On the open road, IMHO, both left foot braking and the "right foot only"
styles are acceptable.

When maneuvering (where IIRC most UAS incidents occur) then
left foot braking is the only way.
Don't give me that "My left foot isn't sensitive enough" stuff - at less than 5mph it's irrelevant.

/John
Re: Unintentional Acceleration Syndrome - honest john
Anyone cruising down the motorway with his or her brake lights on is driving too close to the car in front, is too impatient, or is just a ****wit. Richard's comment has nothing whatsoever to do with left-foot braking.

HJ
Re: Unintentional Acceleration Syndrome - andrew smith
I have always driven manual cars but on a couple of occasions I've had to borrow automatics. The biggest problem is not accidentaly hitting the brake pedal with my right foot, as the movement between accelerator and brake is a familiar one and no different to a manual car, but in an emergency situation my left foot instinctivly stabs for the clutch and hits the (oversized) brake pedal.
So instead of bringing the car to a halt or slowing down in a controlled fashion I end up locking up all four wheels (v.scary if the cars has no ABS). This is made worse by the fact that when the wheel locks you instictivly pull your right foot up which has no effect because you left foot is doing the braking.
Even more bizarre was a car (Toyota Prius) that I drove at the weekend that had the handbrake where the clutch would be on an manual. So now you accidentally lock the back wheels up and I don't think the ABS works on the handbrake. If this happened whilst going round a corner you would end up spinning. (Fortunately this didn't happen)
Re: Unintentional Acceleration Syndrome - honest john
All Andy needs is practice. Just one day constantly switching between manuals and automatics should do it.

HJ
Re: Left Foot Braking - stuart bruce
Its going to be an interesting experiment. On reflection the most times I drive an automatic is overseas, and I have always thought that an unfamiliar car, on the "wrong" side of the road, in relatively unfamiliar traffic laws is not the best place to experiment with such a process. Maybe a track day or similar might be an idea?
Re: Left Foot Braking - Michael Thomas
Probably a bit late to this thread !

Left foot braking. One alternative is to drop the car into neutral just before coming to a stop.

First, you are not wearing the front pads on any FWD car.

Second, by reducing the load on the brakes, they can stop you more effectively.

Thirdly, if you do tap the wrong pedal in neutral, you aren't going anywhere fast.

Finally, to pull away, you have to select a gear and take your foot off the brake, pretty much like a manual.

I drive a mix of autos and manuals, any change from a normal driving style, IMHO is a recipe for more mishaps not less.
Re: Left Foot Braking - honest john
If that's the case, Michael, then the retired driving instructor I mentioned in the beginning of this thread didn't kill himself, did he?

HJ
Re: Left Foot Braking - Michael Thomas
Hitting the accelerator accidentally in ANY car instead of the brake is a recipe for disaster. In the case of the driving instructor, accidents happen to the best of drivers.

When driving my automatic, I've always thought that it is best to de-clutch the engine in the very early stages of making a stop. It's more to do with the nature of automatic transmission than any other reason. To me, it makes sense to remove all motion forces acting against you bringing the car to a stop as safely as possible. It would also negate the accidental depressing of the accelerator causing any increase in speed.

Maybe that should be put into the roadcraft about driving an automatic.

I just think it's not so much left-footed braking but remembering that the left arm can also reach the selector.
Re: Left Foot Braking - honest john
The IAM does not allow 'coasting'. I'm not being snippy here and don't agree, but that's the way it is.

HJ
Re: Left Foot Braking - Michael Thomas
Fair enough, I'm not an advanced driver and I find some of the so-called 'roadcraft' defies common sense. Left foot braking seems fair enough to me but I drive an auto for my everyday and a classic manual most weekends so I don't want to vary my driving style too much. Whatever works for people and ultimately makes the individual drive in a safer manner is a good thing.
 

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