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Learn How to Control the "Gas Pedal" with Liz

One of the first things new drivers must learn is how to control what is commonly called the "gas pedal", but now is more accurately called the accelerator with all of the different available ways we have of powering a car these days. Either way, the acceleration pedal is traditionally the right-most foot pedal on the driver-side that tells your car it's time to move, either forward or backward depending on which gear you are in.

Many beginners struggle with the skill of accelerating at first, though it gets quite easy to master once you get the hang of it. Some apply too much pressure to the accelerator, others don't apply enough pressure, and many more have trouble keeping a smooth, consistent speed. If this describes your struggles, then you've come to the right place because driving expert Liz has devoted the next 270 seconds to teach you all about the art of acceleration and how to do it safely and smoothly!

Acceleration Basics, Video Transcript

Hello, driving instructor Liz here to go over the skill of Acceleration with you! This video is for true beginners and today we'll be focusing on accelerating in residential neighborhoods.

Accelerating a vehicle is easy once you get the hang of it, but many new drivers struggle at the beginning when it comes to smooth acceleration and maintaining consistent speed. Like any new skill, you need to do it in order to learn it, so let's get right into it so you can get out there and practice for yourself!

When talking about acceleration, we are dealing with how to use the "gas pedal", or should I say "the accelerator", as more and more cars are not fully gas powered these days. The accelerator is the foot pedal located on the far right.

When we use the accelerator, our number one goal is SMOOTHNESS. Whatever we do, we NEVER want to slam on the gas pedal or "floor it", otherwise we'll find ourselves dangerously speeding up from zero to 60mph. Instead, we want a nice gradual increase in speed as we begin to move the vehicle. The best way to accomplish this is by keeping your heel planted on the floor and then pressing the gas pedal GENTLY with the ball of the foot. Apply gradual pressure until you feel the car moving at a nice, comfortable pace based on the speed limit for your situation.

Once you get the car up to the speed limit, you want to slightly ease of the accelerator a little. The car should sustain the appropriate speed for you (unless you are on a hill or incline). However, if the car begins to slow down too much, just apply gentle pressure to the accelerator to slightly increase and maintain your speed. On the other hand, if the car is going too fast, just ease off the accelerator a bit. This should slow the car down gradually. You may need to use a little brake if you are still speeding up too quickly after taking your foot off the gas.

For reassurance, you can take quick glances at the speedometer to make sure you are going an appropriate speed and adjust your speed accordingly. In time, you will develop a feeling for the speed you are going and will not rely as heavily on looking at the speedometer.

That's the basics of accelerating. Not too bad, right? After some practice, most new drivers realize that they don't need to work the accelerator as much as they thought they did. You are not constantly pressing up and down on the accelerator like in a video game. It's more a matter of gentle maintenance of the gas pedal and making slight adjustments when needed.

Here are a few more important tips to keep in mind when accelerating:

  • Whenever accelerating from a dead stop, like when you leave the curb, always remember to do your SMOG traffic checks first, Signal Mirror Over-the-Shoulder Go.
  • Always be ready to ease up on the accelerator and be prepared to use your brake pedal. For example, you'll want to take your foot of the gas immediately and cover your brake if you see a potential obstacle like a child running, a parked car opening its door, or any other road hazard.
  • Accelerating too quickly when the roads are wet or icy can cause your tires to lose traction and you may skid
  • Not only are gradual adjustments in speed safer, they will ensure better gas mileage and will help minimize wear and tear on your vehicle
  • While you don't want to accelerate too quickly, there are some situations when you will need to accelerate more aggressively, like when you are entering a busy road from a side street or getting on the freeway. But that is a topic for a more advanced video!

That's all for now. From Liz and everyone at Drivers Ed Direct, thanks for watching and happy accelerating!