by Zeke Corder
When I took driver’s training—yes, we had cars back then—we used cars loaned to the schools by local dealerships.
Our driver’s training instructor would not accept a car with an automatic transmission for driver training.
He felt it was vitally important for every driver to learn to drive a car with a clutch.
Several things are different when you learn to drive with a clutch.
Back in the 60s, cars with a manual-shift transmission did not have a synchronized first gear.
That meant to go from any other gear to first, you had to come to a complete halt.
No big deal, you come to a complete halt at a stop sign, correct?
Another thing you learned is that your right foot controlled the accelerator pedal and the brake pedal.
You had to take your foot off the accelerator before you could press the brake pedal.
You had no choice, as your left foot controlled the clutch pedal.
Once you learned how to drive, going to an automatic was very, very simple.
You did not use your left foot for driving. Simple, right?
Now, that is not the case. Many, maybe most, drivers do not even know how to shift a manual transmission.
People use their left foot on the brake and their right foot on the accelerator. So what, you might ask?
Look at the number of instances of cars running through store windows, yards, fences, by people who are not drinking.
Most say, “Oh, I mistook the brake for the accelerator.” But, that is not usually the real story.
I believe that more often they are using their left foot to ride the brake.
Then in a panic situation, they just push. It so happens that they get confused and push both feet, accelerating against the brakes, and therefore, do not stop.
Watch any intersection in any part of any town for five minutes, I dare you. Count the number of cars that come to a complete stop at the stop sign.
Heck, in my neighborhood, count the number that actually go slower than 10 mph through the stop sign.
Not only is this a real threat to safety, it is ridiculously arrogant.
The driver is saying that no one on the road is as important as they are, and they simply do not have time to come to a complete stop.
If they can see the intersection before they get there, and they can’t see anyone coming, what difference does it make?
Of course, when a jogger steps off the curb, or a child rides his or her bicycle across, assuming the car will stop at the stop sign, there can be dire consequences for all involved.
I understand that you left the house too late to reach your destination on time. I guarantee you that running that stop sign will not save enough time to make up for your poor planning. But, it just might cost someone an injury.
Another factor you may not consider is the cost of using both feet while driving an automatic.
I’ve followed you down the road. Your brake lights flashing on and off as you cruise along at the speed limit.
Do you realize how much wear that is on your brakes?, to say nothing of how much more efficient braking is when the brakes are not already overheated.