Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Pedals and Good Design

I went to pick up Gloria and Eli 14.4 at the airport last night, and I noticed something interesting.

My Honda Accord Hybrid has an extremely responsive brake pedal. Even a light tap gives you strong braking. The gas pedal is almost the opposite, because it's not nearly as responsive, and you have to mash it to accelerate quickly.

I drove Gloria's car--a Subaru Forrester--to the airport (more room for goalie gear), and as I was reaching a pedestrian crosswalk, the car lurched forward as the engine growled.

If there had been a pedestrian in front of me, I might have hit them. Scared me to death.

The Forrester is the opposite of the Accord in terms of pedals--the gas pedal is highly responsive, while you have to mash down hard on the brakes (compared to the Accord, anyway).

That's dangerous, and here's why.

I was pressing down hard on the brakes, in my boots, and I think part of my boot was also pressing down on the accelerator (different car, different pedal width, etc.).

If I did that in the Accord, almost nothing would happen, because I would be touching the accelerator so lightly that the car wouldn't go forward. With the Forrester, though, I was pressing down hard on the brakes, so the ultra-responsive accelerator getting incidentally pressed lurched the car forward.

Plus, if your foot is just a bit in the wrong place, slamming down on the brake (because the car accelerated unexpectedly to you) could make the car go forward even faster.

That seems like bad design.

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