How Your Footwear Affects Your Driving

OK, so summer has properly started in the UK. June has been hot and humid. And July and August are apparently set to follow the same trend. It’s that time of year when fashion becomes less of a consideration than simply staying cool. And you’d be forgiven for break out your flipflops. But here’s a question: If you’re about to head out on a driving lesson, should you?

For any driver not using a specially adapted vehicle, their feet play an integral role. Controlling not only the speed of their vehicle, but the ability to change gears. And, crucially, the ability to brake. So, what you have on your feet can really impact your driving performance. Here’s what you need to know.

Footwear and Driving: What You Need to Know

Are there any laws about the shoes you can wear while driving?

No… But also, yes. The Highway Code does not specifically state which shoes you can and cannot wear while driving. However, Rule 97 does state that you must ensure that ‘… clothing and footwear do not prevent you using the controls in the correct manner.’ And this can mean a number of things.

Firstly, that shoes that do not have adequate grip to enable continuous control of your pedals should not be worn. This can include footwear such as flipflops and sandals.

Secondly, that shoes that do not allow for correct foot positioning – such as high heels – should be avoided.

Thirdly, that it is never a good idea to drive barefoot. Primarily because the sole of your foot lacks the adequate grip to control the pedals. Particularly in the summer, when the potential for sweaty feet is very real!

How can your choice of footwear impact your driving?

The main issue that you need to be aware of when selecting shoes for driving is pedal slip. If your shoes don’t have enough grip, it’s very easy for your foot to slip off the pedal. If that happens, you can panic and put your foot on the wrong pedal, causing dangerous braking or acceleration.

With loose fitting or strappy shoes, there is also the possibility of straps becoming hooked around pedals. This can mean that you accidentally exert pressure on the wrong pedal. Find that you can’t move your feet quickly enough when called upon. Or find that a pedal has become blocked by an unfortunately placed shoe.

You may also find that with some shoe types, it is more difficult to exert the necessary pressure to brake. And this can impact your reaction time.

Are there any penalties for driving with the wrong footwear?

The answer to this depends entirely upon the outcome of your choice of footwear. If you are involved in an accident and it is found that your shoes played a part, then you could lose your licence and receive a £5,000 dangerous driving fine. You could even end up in prison. While this is at the extreme end of the spectrum, a £100 fine and three points on your licence is a strong probability even for minor misdemeanours.

It’s also worth knowing that in the small print of most motor insurance there will be a clause relating to footwear. Flipflops and high heels are usually stipulated against. And will typically result in your policy being null and void.

Before you learn to drive, footwear is usually any ancillary thought. You think about comfort, style, and maybe what looks good with your current outfit. Safety is rarely up there on the list of considerations. But when you get behind the wheel, safety has to be your first thought every time.  Because if you wear the wrong shoes while driving, it can literally ruin your life. And potentially someone else’s. So, it’s always worth thinking about your footwear before you leave the house.

If you’re looking for driving lessons in and around the West Midlands, get in touch with DGN.


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Thomas Baugh

Thomas Baugh

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