In Defense Of Left Foot-Braking During Normal Street Driving

Gif: Team O’Neil Rally School (YouTube)

When you were learning to drive, there’s a pretty good chance your instructor told you to never left-foot brake. I know mine did—it was one of his Big Important Rules, along with always locking your doors as soon as you entered the vehicle and signaling a full minute in advance of turning. But there is, in fact, some pretty good reasons as to why you should go ahead and left-foot brake on everyday streets.


Team O’Neil Rally School’s Wyatt Knox outlines five significant reasons why in the school’s newest video. Honestly, it’s the first time I’ve heard someone staunchly defend left-foot braking in quite a while. It was actually how I initially learned; my dad was adamant that it was safer to have your left foot ready to go for split-second decisions when the blink of an eye makes the difference between a car crash and stopping. It was a very hard habit to break when it came to driving with the aforementioned instructor.

Knox rightfully points out that discussions of left-foot braking are all about “economy of motion.” Basically, that means whether or not you use an extra fraction of a second to move your right foot over to the left as opposed to just having your left foot there, waiting.


He then delves into the big reasons why he sees left-foot braking as preferable: you’re more likely to hit the correct pedal in a bad situation if your feet are in position, thus saving you precious moments in an emergency; you’ll be quicker and more efficient hitting the throttle; you’ll be more precise; and more even weight transfer. It comes down to being effective, efficient, and exacting.

Knox dives into detail for each of his points with some science and personal anecdotes. We’ll let you watch the video to get a full sense of what you could gain with left-foot braking in daily driving scenarios—but I have to admit, Knox makes some pretty compelling arguments. It might be time to re-learn my driving style yet again.

Weekends at Jalopnik. Lead IndyCar writer and assistant editor at Frontstretch. Freelancer. Novelist. Motorsport fanatic.

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Weight transfer... as if 99.9% of drivers would have any capability of managing weight transfer. Anyway, all of this is countered by one simple thing. Nobody is going to have their left foot constantly hovering over the brake pedal but not touching it. Even a gentle touch of the brake pedal on most cars activates the brake lights. So now you’re cruising around with your brake lights on constantly, even with no brake application, so nobody behind you can tell when you’re actually braking. Terrible idea; don’t do it.