Accelerating and Braking

Acceleration and braking are controlled by pedals on your floorboard. The accelerator is the rightmost pedal, the brake is usually in the center. Use your right foot on these pedals. Vehicles with a manual transmission have a third pedal, the clutch, on the left side, and some trucks have a pedal actuator for the emergency brake, which will be located on the far left. Use your left foot on these pedals. Most likely, however, you will start with an automatic transmission vehicle, and it will have a center-placed brake (wide horizonal pedal) and a right (vertical) accelerator pedal that moves the car forward.

Once the vehicle is in gear, press the accelerator pedal slowly at first to engage the transmission and cause the vehicle to move. If the vehicle is in (D)rive, or any numbered gear, pressing the accelerator will cause the vehicle to move forward. If the vehicle is in (R)everse, pressing down the accelerator will cause the vehicle to move backward. The harder you press on the accelerator, the more gas you will send to your engine, causing the vehicle to accelerate, or move faster. Stomping or pushing down  the accelerator quickly will result in a “jackrabbit start” that lurches the vehicle forward. This kind of acceleration will cause extra wear and tear on your engine, and it will waste gasoline. We recommend that you gently squeeze the accelerator to result in smooth, steady acceleration that is more comfortable for your passengers, and more energy efficient.

To slow the vehicle down, release your right foot from the accelerator, and pivot your foot on the heel to the left to rest on the brake pedal. Check your rearview mirror to assess traffic behind you. Tap the brake pedal lightly to activate the brake lights and warn drivers behind you that you are going to slow down, then gently squeeze the brake pedal to decelerate to the desire speed or to a stop. Avoid jabbing or stomping the brake pedal, which will result in hard braking and cause all of the occupants and contents to shift forward. Instead, squeeze the pedal slowly and steadily, increasing pressure slightly until you reach desired safe speed. When you start out, do not press the accelerator (also called “the gas”) too fast and gain too much speed.  Otherwise, you will want to jam on the brakes to stop, and this creates an unpleasant jarring motion, and is not good for long-term survival of your brakes.The key to efficient braking is being aware of upcoming hazards on your path of travel so that you may brake early. Smooth, easy, and early braking protects your passengers, cargo, and vehicle (brakes and tires). 

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