Driving without shoes on is one of those conundrums that depending on who you ask, and when you ask them, will likely fetch you a different answer when asked if it’s legal or not.
With temperatures rising as we reach the British summer, you’ll be more inclined to start wanting to drive without shoes as you get behind the wheel of your car, but what is the actual law?
Can you wear flip-flops while driving?
If you were to read the letter of the law, there is nothing to say you can’t drive while wearing flip-flops, or even while barefoot. However, while it’s not strictly illegal, it’s certainly not advised to wear flip flops and there is an article of the Highway Code that directly addresses the issue, which can still land you a pretty hefty fine.
What does the Highway Code say?
Under Rule 97 of the Highway Code, which sets out the parameters you must adhere to before you begin your journey behind the wheel, you must ensure that your “clothing and footwear do not prevent you from using the controls in the correct manner”. Should you be wearing loose footwear, such as flip-flops, you run the danger of them getting trapped under the brake pedal, hindering your ability to control the car in an emergency and therefore making you in contravention of the Highway Code.
Equally, driving barefoot could also be seen to be a contravention of Rule 97, particularly if your feet are wet from, say, a trip to the beach. Wet feet are more likely to slip off the pedals, and that again goes against your ability to “use the controls in the correct manner”, a direct conflict to the Highway Code.
What happens if you’re caught driving barefoot?
If your choice of footwear, or lack thereof, does result in some slips off the brakes or dodgy driving techniques then you could get pulled over for driving erratically or dangerously and charged for driving without due care and attention. Should you get charged for driving without due care and attention you could be faced with a maximum fine of £5,000 and a potential 9 points on your licence, although a Fixed Penalty Notice of £100 is more likely.
Is it safe to drive barefoot?
With rules in the Highway Code suggesting the safety concerns to driving barefoot, it’s fairly simple to suggest that in terms of safety features, driving barefoot isn’t worth the amount of time you’ll save by not putting shoes and socks on. The Driving Standards Agency states that it “would not recommend driving barefoot because you don’t have the same braking force with bare feet as you do with shoes on.”
The RAC has also added guidelines to stick to when thinking about your driving footwear, which includes having a sole no thicker than 10mm to be able to feel the pedals properly, although you equally don’t want shoes with soles that are too thin or soft, as this may affect your ability to control the pedals. You must also ensure they have adequate grip to stay on the pedals, and also be thin enough to only press one pedal at a time.
What are the risks of driving barefoot?
Driving barefoot runs the risk of not being able to be in complete control of the car owing to your reduced abilities with the pedals. A lack of force when depressing the brakes without shoes on could be the difference between avoiding a front-to-rear collision at a set of traffic lights, for example. While the act of driving barefoot itself isn’t illegal, you have a responsibility to ensure that you are safe on the roads, not only for yourself but for all other road users, and if you are deemed to not be able to drive the car safely you are then breaking the law.
Have you been starting to think that as the weather improves, it’s time to improve your set of wheels to suit? Rather than get caught with no shoes in a warm car, why not scrap your car for a tidy sum and put the proceeds towards a nice new convertible? Find out how much your car could be worth as scrap today through Scrap Car Comparison and our team of dedicated, knowledgeable and friendly advisors, and you could find yourself with a set of summer wheels in time for beach and barbecue season.
For more hints and tips on how to ensure you are driving within the letter of the law, and for other guides on keeping your car running as long and as smoothly as possible, make sure to visit our Car Care hub.