Summer is approaching and that means you’ll probably get the flip-flops out that you managed to use for two weeks last year. But is it advisable? Is it even legal? Well, yes, you are allowed by law to drive using flip-flops and sandals. And 6-inch stiletto heels. You can even ride a motorbike wearing any of them, although this definitely not advisable.
What happens if you have an accident while wearing inappropriate footwear?
Rule 97 of The Highway Code says that Before setting off. You should ensure that clothing and footwear do not prevent you using the controls in the correct manner. If the accident is judged to have been caused by your footwear then you may be charged with driving without due care and attention.
The onus of proof is on police to show that your standard of driving fell below that expected of a competent driver; or that you did not show ‘reasonable’ consideration for other road users. It’s open to a certain amount of interpretation. Penalty points given vary depending on how serious the offence is.
Problems caused by driving in inappropriate footwear
Flip-flops and other flat, loosely worn sandals
One in three motorists admit to driving in flip-flops and one in ten admitted their flip-flop had become caught under a pedal while driving in a survey conducted in 2013 by Sheilas’ Wheels insurance company.
- The front or sides of the flip-flop can catch underneath the brake pedal as you move your foot, preventing you from applying the brake effectively
- Flip-flops tend to have very minimal tread on the sole and this means less grip on the pedals especially if they are wet
- They come off too easily, causing a distraction when you need to put them back on.
Other research showed that braking distances were 3.5m longer at 60mph in flip-flops than in regular shoes.
High-heels and platform shoes
Car pedals are designed to work optimally when the driver’s heel is on the floor. Wearing a high heel raises the heel making it more difficult to push the pedal effectively.
The angle of the foot when driving causes fatigue in the ankle and could lead to muscle and joint problems.
Riding in inappropriate footwear
You should never ride a motorbike or scooter without protective footwear. If you have a strong stomach, you can search Google for images of what happens. Protective clothing for motorbike riding is important to save your life.
Can you drive barefoot?
Ultimately, driving barefoot is better than driving in inappropriate shoes. The great New Zealander and Formula 1 world champion Denny Hulme even used to race barefoot back in the 1950s.
Darren has owned several companies in the automotive, advertising and education industries. He has run driving theory educational websites since 2010.