It seems to get earlier in the season each year when stories are shared through social media channels explaining certain summer fines such as those for driving when wearing flip flops.

Firstly, let us be clear, driving in flip flops, or other inappropriate footwear, can be very dangerous, as was the case in 2016 when a loose fitting sandal got trapped behind the brake pedal of a car in Manchester, the car crashing into a wall and a little girl being killed as a result, something the driving father will have to live with for the rest of his life. However, despite the danger, there is no specific law dictating what sort of footwear can be worn when driving.

There are however laws which dictate that as a driver you must always be in full control of your vehicle. If you are wearing inappropriate footwear and are involved in an incident, a collision, or are caught committing an offence, speeding as an example, then you are clearly not in full control and it can be taken into consideration.

When you drive with flip flops if becomes easier to be involved in an incident. When you drive back home from the beach, for example, your flip flops are often wet and have sand on them, therefore you have a high risk of losing your flip flops while driving or when you use your car pedals. With Flip flops you cannot break or accelerate properly, ALL these factors can end in a traffic incident or infraction and in these cases, you can be fined for driving with inappropriate footwear.

Wearing appropriate footwear is a must when driving. When you think about the physical process required to make a vehicle go, turn, or stop, all the actions are performed by our hands and feet.

In the UK, Rule 97 of the Highway Codes states that before setting off, you should ensure that “clothing and footwear do not prevent you using the controls in the correct manner”.

If we consider a driver who is barefoot, for example, there is nothing illegal about this, but controlling the clutch, and even the brakes, can require a lot of pressure, which may prove difficult if a driver is barefoot. Feet can sweat and reduce the traction and wearing of socks or stockings is not ideal either, on account of the pressure needed.

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Flip flops and sandals are considered by far the most dangerous of all inappropriate footwear. Shoes which don´t fit securely may fall off when driving and can get in the way of the pedals as we have explained. Equally dangerous is how the foot can slip whilst the shoe remains in contact with the pedal, thus reducing braking time and causing a considerable risk when stopping.

High heels also pose their own problems, largely because these shoes are designed to alter the shape of the foot and ankle to raise the profile of the wearer. That´s all very well for a glamorous stroll through a prestigious event, but when sitting in a driving position the shape of the shoe prevents correct contact with the pedals, again reducing the response time.

Supposing a lack of control of the clutch makes the car lunge forward and hit something in front, or the reaction time is reduced due to stumbling feet and you are unable to stop before hitting an obstacle, if it is likely that the inappropriate footwear was a contributing factor, the driver may well see a fine issued. Similarly, if an insurance company decides that inappropriate footwear was a contributing factor, it may lessen the compensation amount in the event of a claim.

As for choosing the most appropriate shoe for driving, comfort is important and a flat shoe that will not easily slip off is best, not too wide, and secure. You can buy specific driving shores, but laced, Velcro or secure slip-on plimsolls or trainers are ideal, so long as they are flat, with rubber grip on the underside which provides excellent traction and control over the pedals.

Shoes that allow the driver to feel the pedal through the shoe, whilst still being able to apply sufficient pressure without discomfort, are the best for the job.

We strongly recommend that you always wear appropriate, fitting footwear when you drive, for the reasons we have explained, inappropriate footwear will be taken into consideration, but they are not expressly forbidden.

 

 

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