driving shoes the facts
Driving shoes play an important part of our everyday control of our cars and the way a learner driver progresses. Modern cars have many different pieces of technology to help us drive, but the one thing that really does count is our feet and our choice of driving shoes we wear.
The footwear we choose can make a huge difference in the way we all drive in relation to the safety part of driving. Once in a while, we hear of motorists being fined or even causing accidents due to the footwear they were wearing at that time. There is a huge array of footwear we wear today and some are unsuitable to wear whilst driving our cars.
As a professional driving instructor, I give my pupils advice on what footwear they should be wearing on their driving lessons with me. There is usually a noticeable improvement when this is adhered to and driving techniques start to improve.
The correct footwear is extremely important for safe driving. We have shoes for all different types of events from sports, walking, and going out for the evening, but when driving do you wear the right driving shoes. When operating the pedals it is important to get the right feel and responsiveness through those pedals to control your car through the braking sensation for smoothness and the vibrations on the clutch for biting points, and anything that stops this sensation from feeding through to your feet is a real hindrance.
As well as wearing the correct footwear, make sure loose clothing does not become an issue like long skirts and scarf’s that could become a problem down below. Also, beware of loose mats that can bunch up against the pedals if they’re not properly secured.
The Importance of Proper Footwear
Wearing the correct footwear is a must and flip-flops and sandals are normally considered the most dangerous of all inappropriate footwear. Shoes that don’t fit securely may fall off when driving and can get in the way of the foot controls. Trendy footwear to look great for certain events is all well and good, but when sat in your seating position the shape and style can prevent solid operation of the pedals and this can result in loss of control and possible accidents.
A flat shoe is most suitable for driving and one that does not slip off the foot allowing the driver to feel the pedals through the sole. This increases the ability to apply enough pressure without any discomfort on the pedals is much better for driving. Wearing high heels causes other problems such as the heel can catch on the floor mat and get stuck and movement of the ankle is severely restricted for things like clutch control in slow moving conditions. Thick soled shoes like work boots limit the feel and contact on the pedal and this can lead to a risk of slipping off the foot pedals.
‘Hazardous’ Footwear and the law
There are actually no laws on what footwear you can wear whilst driving your car. High heels, flip flops, platform shoes or boots and even bare foot are all legal.
If you are involved in an accident and you are deemed to have caused the accident due to the footwear you were wearing. This will be deemed you were driving without due care and attention. That could land you in trouble with the law and be prosecuted. Be sensible when choosing your driving shoes.
Bare feet drivingBarefoot driving is considered not to be illegal. A driver operating the clutch or brake pedal does tend to need a lot of downward pressure. This could be hard to do with bare feet.
Wearing socks or tights and stockings would reduce any grip needed to operate your pedals safely. This can result in driving in an unsafe way, therefore it can be deemed illegal if it causes an incident.
The use of suitable driving shoes will allow for even pressure on the foot pedals. Therefore, using the pedals is safer and smoother. A continued use of pedals with bare feet or stockinged feet can be painful and can cause cramp. This will contribute to a loss of control of your vehicle. Bare feet driving can also be a health risk because the foot pedals can have sharp edges to them. Consequently, any slip can cause cuts and abrasions.
TIPS ON FOOTWEAR AND DRIVING PREPARATION
Try and make sure all laces and straps do not trail away from the shoe or these can quite easily wrap around a pedal and get your feet stuck. That is obvious on what could happen next whilst you are driving.
A pair of suitable driving shoes left in the car is a great idea for when you are due to make a journey that may require you to wear high heels or other footwear at your destination. The change of footwear can be done fairly quickly and will allow a safer drive.
Keep loose or long clothing away from the controls as they could limit your range of movement. Also, they could even get snagged on your driving shoes.
Use a good quality fitted floor mat to keep your heels sturdy while operating pedals. A poor fitting floor mat tends to slip around and can get jammed up behind the pedals. That can also snag your shoes and folding up which can cause some danger of not accessing the pedals correctly.
In wet conditions try to dry the soles of your shoes on the floor mat before setting off. Water and rubber soles do not mix so your grip is vastly reduced especially on the clutch and brake.
Keep all loose goods such as bags away from the foot well so they do not slide towards your pedals.
Use your toes and widest part of the foot and not your instep for a better feel and control.
Rule 97 The Highway code advice on driving footwear
The Highway Code rule 97 states that “Clothing and footwear do not prevent you using the controls in the correct manner.” Also, anything that restricts the usage of any of your car controls could be dangerous and unsafe.
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