One of the more virulent barefoot myths is that it is illegal to drive barefoot. Of course, this is not the case.
But it is always interesting (interesting as in “extremely annoying”) to hear the speculation as to why barefoot driving is “illegal”.
What has happened is that people buy the myth, and then make up spurious reasons to justify why it might be so. We will hear stupid reasons like “a pebble could get caught on the pedal”, completely ignoring the fact that the pedals are at such a step angle that there is no way a pebble could get caught on it (absent some industrial strength chewing gum). And of course, the force required to operate the pedal is so much lower than body weight that nobody who can stand barefoot will come close to generating a greater force.
But I want to deal with another myth: that you should not use your left foot for braking.
I’ve been using my left foot for braking since I first started to drive.
Now, it may help that I am pretty much ambidextrous (though a lot of that is deliberately training myself to be so). I can write with either hand (and can do so with either regular writing or mirror writing). Speaking of mirror writing, here’s what I think is a rather cool rendition of my name with left-right mirror symmetry:
(Inspired by Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, by Douglas R. Hofstadter.)
I also play tennis both right-handed and left-handed. My left-handed play is about 75% as good as my right-handed, except for serving, which is probably about 20% as good. (Sorry, haven’t practiced it as much.) (Of course, as I’ve noted before, I also play tennis barefooted.)
Anyways, most folks will say that you should never left-foot brake. The right foot should be used for both acceleration and the brake. And then, if you have a manual transmission, use the left foot for the
Well, I’ve driven both automatic and manual transmissions. For the automatic, I left-foot brake. For the manual, I right-foot brake (and accelerate). And my brain automatically adjusts and I’ve never had a problem or confusion. Maybe I’m just smarter than the average bear.
And then the excuses come.
Oh, but if you left-foot brake, you might ride the brake pedal without realizing it.
Well, yes. But the incompetence of some people is not an good excuse for stopping the competent people from doing so. When I am left-foot braking I’m sure that my reaction time is better (since I can have my left foot hovering over brake as needed).
And here is where barefooting comes in.
If you are barefoot you can easily tell if you are riding the brake because you can feel if you are touching it.
So if you are a barefooter, feel free to left-foot brake. (Just practice it a bit first, just to get the feel of it and not brake too hard.)
But don’t believe the folks who’ve never tried it themselves and only are good for manufacturing excuses for why they think it might be a bad idea.