What Footwear Can You Legally Drive In?


The Law is quite clear in this respect – Rule 97 of the Highway Code states “Before setting off, you should ensure that clothing and footwear do not prevent you using the controls in the correct manner”

Whereas the Driving Standards Agency states “Wear sensible clothing for driving, especially on a long journey. Suitable shoes are particularly important. We also would not recommend driving barefoot because you don’t have the same braking force with barefoot as you do with shoes.”

One popular website has interpreted these as:

Your shoe should

  • Have a sole no thicker than 10mm but 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 too pedals at once.

However, these interpretations have no basis in law and the comments left suggest that a large number of people disagree.

A 2005 survey conducted by Norwich Union Motor Insurance Company (now known as Aviva) found that of 1000 motorists questioned, three quarters stated that they found it challenging driving in flip flops, although a quarter who acknowledge this point stated that they would continue to drive in these.

The main issue with flip flops is that the sole can become trapped underneath the pedal whilst raising the foot to change gear or moving from accelerator to brake pedal.

Additionally, wearing flip flops, mules or shoes without adequate ankle support can lead to the foot slipping off or missing the pedal altogether.

Taking all the above into account – you can get behind the wheel of a vehicle barefoot or while wearing inadequate footwear, provided you can operate the controls correctly. However, if you have an accident or get pulled over for driving without due care and attention and the police deem this to be in part due to inadequate footwear, you could find yourself with a fine, points on your licence or even a ban.

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