Driving with the Left Foot: Great or Terrible Idea (Is it illegal?)

One of the first cars I learned to drive in idled so badly that I was forced at times to keep my left foot on the brake and give the car some gas to keep it from stalling at a stop. Some say that by driving with the left foot for the brake they can even have a faster brake reaction time, so is better to drive with both feet?

And is it legal to drive with my left foot on the brake?

It is legal to drive with your left foot as long as it is conducive to safe driving that does not endanger you or anyone else. It is conventional to drive with the right foot on the gas and brake pedal but there is no law stating that the left cannot be used. There are even a few benefits to using the left foot although it is generally not recommended.

Some learn the habit like I did. Perhaps they were taught to drive with two feet. Perhaps they feel more comfortable with their left foot than their right. Some have a disability in their right leg that makes it easier to drive with it. So, what are the advantages to driving with the left foot and should I be doing it?

Driving With your Left Foot On the Brake

Left Foot to Brake Can Be Better than the Right

With practice, driving with your left foot operating the brake pedal, and the right foot the gas can produce faster reaction times and result in safer driving. Race car drivers often drive with this technique and is certainly a technique that can be learned, although is not recommended in a passenger car.

Take for an example of having an orthopedic boot on your right foot and you MUST drive somewhere. Driving with the left foot on the brake in this case may feel safer and be the better choice. More on what to do in a medical situation like this below.

Reaction time on the brake pedal can be faster if I drive with my left foot because the left foot can be hovered over the brake pedal and quick to respond without having to move from the gas pedal. This requires practice to use the left foot accurately and the biggest concern is confusing the gas pedal for the brake with your right foot.

The other major advantage of using your left foot for the brake is if you are required to with a disability or other physical reason. This is perfectly acceptable as long as you practice and are able to drive safely!

Other than these few things, there are several downsides to driving with the left foot for the brake.

9 Disadvantages of Using the left Foot to Brake

Why don’t we use our left foot to brake?

  1. Brake pedal position makes it difficult for left foot movement.
  2. It is tiring to keep both feet up. No more being able to rest your left foot!
  3. Fear of in a crash instinctively stomping both feet to the floor or confusing the two feet and unexpectedly accelerating.
  4. Difficult to learn. Much easier to use the right foot and you’re done!
  5. Most people are more coordinated with their right foot.
  6. When driving a manual transmission car, you will need your left foot for the clutch.
  7. If you drive with the left foot on the brake, you may unintentionally leave your foot resting on the pedal illuminating the brake light.
  8. Tough position for left foot/knee. Your left leg will ache after a while of constantly being held up in an awkward position.
  9. Unable to brace with your left foot up. You will be surprised at how much you use your left foot to support you through turns and when stopping abruptly.

I personally witnessed a friend mistake the gas for the brake, and drive right into a pole in front of a parking stall. It was a sad day for her car was all smashed!

Fortunately everyone in the car was okay but just image what could happen if she were driving faster and made the same mistake. For this reason alone, for most people it is safer and thus necessary to drive with the right foot.

The important thing is to drive however is safest!

But also I drove an old car for a long time that idled very poorly so it required a bit of gas at a stop to keep the car from dying.

If you can help it, drive with your right foot. That is how cars are designed and without modifying that design it is generally not a good idea. There are some cars made with modifications to drive completely with your hands and modifying the car to be able to use your left foot is not out of the question.

Gas Pedal Brake Pedal And Clutch Pedal. Learning to drive manual can be difficult if you have the habit of using your left foot to drive.

Switching to drive a manual car can also be difficult if you have formed the habit of driving with your left foot.

Driving with your Left Foot on the Gas

Circumstances where Left foot on the gas is acceptable

The only time someone should drive with their left foot on the gas pedal, and presumably for the brake as well, is if they are forced to by a disability, or surgery or other event and they must drive somewhere. Otherwise it is best avoided. It is not recommended to drive regularly with your left foot on the gas.

Consult your nearby custom auto shop to discuss modifying your vehicle in a way that is suited for you instead of driving with your left foot. There are also details below informing you what you can purchase to modify the brake pedal yourself!

Operating the gas pedal with the left foot is not recommended without modification to the car

Avoid driving with your left foot because of the position that it puts your feet in. The best solution for someone that cannot drive with their right foot is to have the car modified.

Cars are manufactured with the accelerator pedal on the right side of the gas making it difficult and uncomfortable to drive with the left foot on the gas pedal, but it is not illegal. There is no law stating you cannot drive with your left foot on the accelerator, but there are a few things you can do to make sure you drive safely with your left foot.

And driving safely is a law!

It is most important to ensure that however you drive, you are comfortable and confident you are in control of the vehicle. If you are not confident you can drive with your left foot safely, then you should not drive with your left foot. Or, modify the car.

Modify the Car to Use your left foot comfortably

It is possible to modify your car to be able to drive with your left foot. The modification involves moving the gas pedal or adding an additional gas pedal to the left side of the brake. This can be accomplished by a local automotive fabrication shop.

Even better than modifying the car at a shop is there exist products that allow you to install the secondary gas pedal yourself!

These are our two favorite left foot accelerator pedal kits:

  1. PLFA Portable Left Foot Accelerator Pedal – Made in The USA – Not Bolted to Car or Truck – US Veteran Owner
  2. Left Foot Gas Accelerator Pedal by Able Motion Mobility

The first left foot pedal kit is actually portable and does not even bolt into the car which makes installation a breeze and can be easily moved to another car!

The second has excellent reviews and can be installed without serious modification to the car.

These kits are safe because they still allow for the movement of the right accelerator pedal to be operated like normal and are engineered to not get stuck. They have mechanical parts in them that allow the left foot pedal to control the right, but still being able to use the right pedal without using the left.

Do Left-Footed People Use Their Left Foot When Driving?

Left footed people learn to drive with their right foot because the gas pedal is in line with the right foot making it uncomfortable for a left-footed person to drive with their left foot. It is recommended instead for left-footed people to practice movement of their right foot until they are coordinated enough with their right foot.

If you insist on the need to drive with the left foot then above is a description of an easy way to modify your car so that you may move the gas pedal to the left side of the brake pedal.

Why is the Gas Pedal on the Right Side of the Brake and Not the left?

The majority of cars made just 50 years ago had all manual transmissions. Everyone drove a manual transmission and that requires the use of the left foot to operate the clutch pedal. Building cars with an automatic transmission still made sense to put the pedal on the right side of the brake since that is what people were used to.

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