Many of us don’t give a second thought to the shoes we are wearing when driving, that is of course until an accident or potential accident is the result of inappropriate footwear.
There is not a law in the UK making it illegal to drive in any type of shoes. Legally you’re obliged to drive barefoot, in flip flops, sandals, six in heels and even 10 inch platforms if you so wish. If an accident is a result of inappropriate driving footwear however, the consequences can be serious.
Explained are the safe and appropriate shoes for driving, along with shoes that can be potentially dangerous for driving in and the risks and positives of driving in bare feet.
Driving in high heels
It’s surprisingly not illegal to drive in high heels in the UK although it is certainly not recommended. Dangers associated with driving in high heel shoes or boots can be the heel getting caught in the floor carpet or mat just as you are going to brake, therefore impeding reaction time or preventing the brake being pressed altogether.
Driving in high heel shoes can also be dangerous due to the heel of the foot not resting on the floor of the car. Having the heel of your foot resting on the car floor allows a driver to move from the accelerator to the brake faster and easier and to apply pressure on the pedals. High heels can for this reason slow a drivers reaction time down.
Driving in flip flops
Driving in flip flops or sandals of a similar design is by far the most dangerous type of footwear to drive in. Pedals can easily get caught between the sole of your foot and the flip flop leading to a reduction of control to the vehicle and an increase in the amount of time it takes to brake.
Flip flops can also easily slip off whilst driving and get caught between or under the pedals. The focus of the driver is then to locate the flip flop, taking their attention off the road.
Driving in flip flops is a cause of traffic accidents. It’s a good idea to keep a pair of shoes suitable for driving in the car at all times. If a suitable pair of shoes are not available, a safer option is to remove the flip flops and drive bare foot.
driving in barefoot, is it Illegal?
A common myth is that it’s illegal to drive without shoes (barefoot), in fact it’s not illegal to drive barefoot in the UK. It is not illegal to drive without shoes nor is it illegal to drive with flip flops or high heels.
If the choice is between driving in high heels, flip flops or bare feet, by far the safest option is bare feet. Although the safest, there are still some dangers associated with driving in bare feet.
An individual not used to walking or driving barefoot may find operating the pedals uncomfortable and exerting pressure, especially in the form of an emergency stop, may find operating the pedals painful which may lead to a reduction in control of the vehicle.
Other potential risks could be operating the pedals with bare wet feet may become slippery. Nylon socks or tights can reduce traction between your foot and the pedals making them slippery. Also, in the event of an accident, appropriate driving shoes are likely to offer a reduction in foot injury.
On the plus side however, certain individuals actually find it easier to drive barefoot as it allows them to gain a better ‘feel’ for the car, in particular the clutch bite point. As a result, driving barefoot helps to reduce the possibility of stalling.
Car accidents caused by shoes
The Highway Code states that you must not use footwear that prevents you from using the foot controls in the correct manner, so although it’s legal to wear whichever shoes you like, as the driver of a vehicle you are responsible for keeping good control.
Can I be fined for wearing inappropriate shoes whilst driving
Although currently there is no specific offence related to driving with inappropriate footwear, you can be fined depending on the circumstances. If you are stopped by the police due to erratic driving and it is deemed footwear being the cause, an officer could issue you with a verbal warning along with advice. More serious cases where they feel you represent a danger to other road users can see a driver issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN). This may be non-endorsable (no penalty points) that levies a £50 fine, or an endorsable FPN which has penalty points added to a drivers licence and a fine of £100. More severe cases can involve careless driving.
If an accident is the result of inappropriate footwear, therefore rendering the driver unable to fully maintain control of the vehicle, an insurance company may reduce the amount paid out in a claim due to the driver actively contributing to the accident.
Best shoes for driving
Flat shoes that will not easily slip off such as plimsolls are the best type of driving shoe. Plimsolls are securely tied, have excellent rubber grip on the underside providing excellent traction with the pedals and the sole of the shoe isn’t too thick.
The best driving shoes will allow the driver to feel the pedals through the sole providing the driver with an indication of how much pressure they are exerting on the pedals. Ladies ballet flat shoes if secure on the feet are also a good choice of driving shoe.
Worst shoes for driving
Flips flops and high heels have of course already been mentioned. Also avoid shoes that have a very hard sole or very thick sole as these will impede the feeling a driver has with the pedals. Wearing shoes with very thick (platform shoes) or wide soles, a driver may easily press the brake and clutch at the same time without realising.