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Driving laws: is it illegal to drive barefoot?

Some driving laws can seem a little murky. Like, is it okay to drive without shoes on? What about flip flops? Are high heeled shoes allowed?

You’ve probably received a lot of different responses to these questions and are still unsure whether it’s okay or not. After all, some people think it’s fine and others believe you’re breaking the law. Don’t worry - here, we’ve broken down if it’s illegal to drive without shoes and what it means for you behind the wheel.

Is it illegal to drive without shoes?

No, it isn’t illegal to drive without shoes. That’s a surprise, right? It doesn’t feel like you should be able to get behind the wheel with nothing on your feet.

But even though you can, that doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do.

Why is it best to avoid driving without shoes? Driving barefoot may mean you’re less likely to put your foot down on the brake pedal as hard as you need to, in an emergency situation. Or you may not be able to control the car as well.

It’s safe to say, humans - especially those living in the UK - don’t do a lot barefoot and shoes offer us that extra level of grip and protection we need while driving. Our feet are delicate and pretty soft - they feel everything, and this will impact our ability to drive without shoes on.

The law is silent on the issue but the Driving Standards Agency recommends that you do wear suitable shoes when driving. Flat shoes that fit well are usually the best idea, as it means nothing can get in the way and you have total control of the pedals.

Before you leave your shoes behind, think about the safety of any passengers in your car and yourself, first. Ask yourself, can you control the pedals as well as when you have shoes on? Do you hesitate when putting your foot down for fear of hurting yourself? This could affect your ability to drive safely.

What shoes shouldn't you drive in?

As well as driving barefoot, there are some other shoe types to think about before you hop into the driver's seat. These can all hinder your control over the pedals in some way.

Heels - Many people can drive in heels, but this type of shoe can be a little clumsy and hinder ankle movement when using the pedals. It all depends how confident you are in this type of shoe and whether you feel comfortable using pedals with them on. Platforms or wedge shoes - Like heels, these can limit your foot’s natural movement when pressing down on the brake. Chunky boots - Big boots with thick soles can reduce movement and you may not be able to feel the pedals underfoot. Flip-flops - Not only are the soles slippy but they could also come off while driving, which can be dangerous if they get stuck behind the pedal or hinder your foot moving.

The ideal shoes for driving are:

  • Flat
  • Have some grip on the sole
  • Are not too heavy
  • Don’t come off easily
  • Are thin enough to feel the pedals
  • Don’t limit your ankle movement
  • Not too wide - so they don’t press two pedals at once

Some people claim to drive without shoes for comfort reasons, stating that long drives are better with no shoes restricting their feet and, while that works for them it may not for you. If you have to drive barefoot for whatever reason, you now know that it isn’t against the law - but probably isn’t the best idea.

Posted on August 21, 2018
Category Safe Driving


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