Is it illegal to drive barefoot? Here's what the law says about being behind the wheels in flip flops or without shoes
THE sun is shining once again as Portsmouth continues to bask in the warm weather.
Driving in a pair of sweaty shoes can certainly be uncomfortable during sunny conditions.
In fact some drivers prefer to opt for flip flops or even go bare foot when driving in warm weather.
There is often a debate around whether it is against the law or not to slip your shoes off before getting behind the wheel and it can be confusing for drivers to know whether their choice of footwear is illegal or not.
Well according to the RAC in a nutshell it is not against the law to drive in the UK without shoes on and the same applies for wearing flip flops, provided you are able to safely operate the vehicle.
So if you have been for a dip in the sea or a paddling pool and you get behind the wheel with wet feet you might be putting yourself, your passengers and other road users at risk by not being able to drive the car safely, which is illegal.
And just because it isn’t illegal to be bare footed when driving, that doesn’t mean it is right to do so!
According to the Driving Standards Agency – the body that regulates the UK driving test – ‘suitable shoes are particularly important behind the wheel. We would not recommend driving barefoot because you don’t have the same braking force with bare feet as you do with shoes on.’
There are some basic guidelines you should follow when selecting footwear to drive in. Your shoe should:
- Have a sole no thicker than 10mm…
- … but the sole should not be too thin or soft.
- Provide enough grip to stop your foot slipping off the pedals.
- Not be too heavy.
- Not limit ankle movement.
- Be narrow enough to avoid accidentally depressing two pedals at once.
While this does not technically categorise flip flops - or other flimsier types of footwear like high heels - as unsuitable for driving a car, they can be dangerous but equally so can sturdy, robust shoes, such as walking or snow boots.
The RAC say: ‘Driving in less than practical shoes – or no shoes at all for that matter – is not illegal, but you have a responsibility as a driver to uphold standards on the road.
‘If your selection of footwear hampers that, you’re putting yourself at risk.’
They advise that it is important to have a good base and grip to apply pressure to the pedals, but you need a certain degree of finesse to manipulate the controls. If not, you could strike the brake and accelerator together, producing a heart-in-mouth incident.
The RAC added: ‘You wouldn’t go for a jog in high heels or flip-flops, so why use them when you’re behind the wheel?’
Do you drive bare-footed? Let us know in the comments below.