why are the gas pedal and brake shaped the way they are?


There has to be a specific reason why most cars all have similar shapes to their pedals.

In: 4757

The intent is to make the brake pedal easier to hit in a panic situation. Most people are imprecise when under stress, so the brake pedal is large and is more easier to operate.

The gas pedal should be a more conscientious decision, and so it is smaller to make it less of an accident to press the gas.

The brake pedal is slightly lower than the accelerator pedal which prevents a resting foot to depress the accelerator pedal by accident. We need to raise our foot and place it on the accelerator pedal if our foot is coming from brake pedal. Where as it’s easier to move foot the other way around.

It also harkens back to the times of [Heel & Toe](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heel-and-toe_shifting) shifting, where the right foot operates two pedals at the same time. Accelerator pedal is elongated, so it can be hit with the heel, while toes (or rather the ball of the foot) is on the brake pedal.

It is still used in competitive driving, and by some car nuts on the road today (me included), but used to be necessary before the advent of transmission gear synchronisation (so like 70 year ago for most cars), if you wanted to brake and change gear at the same time. Still, it is more possible with some brands. More sporty the brand, more the pedal layout allows it.

With pictures (don’t believe the webpage, women can do it too!):

Brake pedals used to be very wide, both for ease of finding in a panic and also because power brakes ~~didn’t used to exist~~ weren’t common, some drivers needed both feet on the brake pedal to get the full stopping power. I’ve noticed brake pedals have been shrinking since power brakes became standard.

Edit to alter phrasing

In the olden days when cars were first being built, the accelerator pedal was often a long pedal connected to the floor by a hinge type arrangement and acted like a lever. It was long to give you a lot of control over the throttle in the carb.

The brake pedal was often a lever suspended from above and acted more like a plunger to operate the master cylinder for the brakes. (Possibly as a lever to pull a cable in really early machines)

Most likely they are still designed this way as a throw back to those earlier designs.

Part of the reason that hasn’t been mentioned here is that the brake pedal is (or at least used to be) wide enough to get both feet on it. Before reliable power brakes, the expression “stand on the brakes” was a lot closer to literally true than it is now. The gas pedal just moves a small lever and never needs both feet to operate. Add heel/toe shifting and you end up with a wide brake pedal and a tall gas pedal.