My wife’s right leg is not cooperating with her brain the way it should. A podiatrist’s exam and x-rays ruled out any damage or disorder of the foot. Her foot and ankle are fine. But she’s not able to press the accelerator and brake with enough force to drive safely. Fortunately, she doesn’t like to drive and is good about letting me know when she shouldn’t be driving.
She wakes with numb tingling and little “command” of her leg’s behavior. I command my dog, Einstein, “Get down out of my chair.” He follows my command and hops to the floor. In the morning she commands her leg, “Move to the floor.” It responds, “yeah, right.” This recalcitrant behavior comes and goes but the current trend is not good.
I searched the ‘net for a solution.
I was surprised by all the hardware one can bolt onto a car or truck to make it useful to one who cannot use their right foot on the accelerator and brake. To summarize my discoveries, I found left foot accelerators which allow one to drive without requiring the use of the right foot.
The left foot accelerator mounts on the floor near the original brake and accelerator. One end of a heavy rod attaches to the bottom of the left hand accelerator and stretches beneath the brake pedal. At the right end of the rod is a paddle that presses against the original accelerator when the left hand accelerator is pressed.
That’s the basic design and (in terms of engineering) it looks like it would work well. Those I’ve reviewed look sturdy and have many bolt holes to use when fastening to the floorboard.
But I see a problem. So much of driving is based upon habitual behavior. Unless we’re learning to drive, we rarely wonder, “Which one of the pedals is the brake?” While not truly an instinct, pressing the brake and accelerator seem instinctive. We don’t think about them. And when we need to brake quickly, we automatically mash the brake peddle.
If the accelerator is on the opposite side of the brake after we install a left hand accelerator, how long does it take for the left leg and foot to brake and accelerate with the “instinctive” behavior? The device seems to me like it could be dangerous. It’s easy to imagine someone smashing the left hand accelerator to the floor instead of the brake in an emergency requiring instinctive driving behavior. Instead of stopping, they would actually speed up!
After all, the brake is usually on the left. We’ll think about this some more.