Driving in Flip Flops: The Law

For anybody asking, ‘Is it illegal to drive in flip-flops?’ The answer is no, driving without shoes on or wearing flip-flops while behind the wheel is not illegal in the UK. But, of course, there are certain rules.

While you can get behind the wheel of your car while wearing flip-flops or being barefoot, you must be able to operate the vehicle’s controls safely.

There's often a temptation, particularly for inexperienced drivers, to dress for the heat in the summer holidays without thinking about being in control of their car. It may be more comfortable to wear flip-flops on blazing hot days but it could be a costly mistake to make when you drive.

That's because the Highway Code Rule 97 makes it clear that drivers must wear clothing that doesn't prevent them from 'using the controls in the correct manner'.

Can you drive in flip-flops?

While some young and inexperienced drivers may be wondering ‘Can you drive in flip-flops?’ - one of the big issues is that flip-flops can slide off and become wedged under the pedals, which will prevent you from pressing down on the pedals, particularly the brake, which could lead to you driving erratically or even being involved in a collision and putting other road users at risk.

An issue following this is that if your footwear was the cause of a car accident, or partly the reason for crashing, then you could face being charged with dangerous and careless driving. 

Even in a situation where your footwear didn't cause the accident, personal injury lawyers could argue that you didn't take any actions to reduce the risk of being involved in an accident. Being partly liable for an accident is known as contributory negligence.

While the UK summer 2018 has delivered a heatwave for us all to enjoy, the temptation for lots of people is to get into their vehicles wearing flip-flops or no shoes at all. Whether that's a short distance or not, have an accident and it could cost you an on-the-spot fine of £100, plus three penalty points on your driving licence.

If you are involved in a serious car accident then you may risk receiving a fine of up to £5,000 and up to nine penalty points on your license. There's also the possibility of a driving ban too.

Appropriate Footwear for Driving

You should always have a good pair of shoes for driving. Even if you're heading out to dinner in a nice pair of heels, it's not too much of a hassle to change them just for the drive there and back!

According to the RAC's Guidelines, your footwear should:

  • Have plenty of grip on the sole to avoid slipping off the pedals.
  • Have sole that isn't thicker than 10mm.
  • Not be too heavy or clumpy to make sure you can use the pedals properly.
  • Not restrict your ankle or leg movement.
  • Not be so wide that you end up depressing two pedals at the same time.

Sticking to these basic guidelines will ensure that you're not putting yourself at risk of a road traffic accident.

Impact on Car Insurance Premiums

There may also be an impact on your future car insurance premiums for simply wearing inappropriate shoes, or none, which for a younger driver could be a hefty increase. This may also become an issue if you are involved in a non-fault accident.

The director of policy at IAM RoadSmart Neil Greig says: “If flip-flops stopped you being in control you could be prosecuted, as you are breaking Highway Code Rule 97. Careless driving is mostly judged on the impact your driving has on others around you, so if you are spotted swerving or breaking erratically and then stopped and found to have inadequate footwear, you could be prosecuted.”

Is Driving Barefoot in the UK Illegal?

The organisation that regulates the UK's driving test, the Driving Standards Agency, says that suitable shoes are important when behind the wheel and this could also extend to those who are driving in heels or loose fitting shoes.

They add: “We wouldn't recommend driving barefoot as you do not have the same braking force as you do with shoes on.”

In a nutshell, while you can drive barefoot or wearing flip-flops, it doesn't mean it's the right thing to do.

If you’ve been involved in a road traffic accident that wasn’t your fault, give us a call today to see how we can help you, and please share our blog to spread awareness of the rules regarding footwear and driving!

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