Do you have to wear shoes while driving?

Do you have to wear shoes while driving?

We explain what the law says and doesn't say about driving without footwear and what type of footwear is considered good and bad.

It’s possible that at some point in your life you’ve been in a car with someone who drove with no shoes on, but instead either only had socks on or they were in fact barefoot. But is this actually allowed?

It does seem like common sense that when someone plans to drive their car, they’ll be wearing shoes or trainers before they start using the pedals. But what if you needed to use your car to get somewhere and, for some reason, you didn’t have access to footwear. Can you drive without footwear?

Technically it is not illegal to drive without footwear, although if, say, your feet are wet for some reason, then you could be considered not in full control of the vehicle, which would make the action illegal. Even if you don’t have such problems with your feet, driving without footwear is something that is best avoided for several reasons.

The Driving Standards Agency, the same group that regulates UK driving tests, says: “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.”

Guidelines for driving footwear

Although you’ll preferably want something on your feet when you’re driving, some footwear is better suited than other types. After all, if hypothetically someone tried to drive while wearing scuba diving fins or loose-fitting slippers, the issues with doing this are easy to figure out.

There are basic guidelines which have been laid out by the DSA in regards what makes suitable footwear to drive in. The guidelines say that shoes used for driving should:

  • Have a sole that’s not extremely thin or soft but no thicker than 10mm either
  • Provide enough grip to stop your foot slipping off the pedals
  • Not be too heavy
  • Not restrict ankle movement
  • Not be so wide you could accidentally press on two pedals at once

Driving without suitable footwear is something you may end up doing one day due to extraordinary circumstances, but on every other day it’s best to use your common sense to figure out what’s comfortable and suitable to wear.

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