Is it Illegal to Drive in Flip-Flops? How about Barefoot?

July 5, 2016


Summer is here and flip-flop season is upon us. It's hot out there and no one likes over-heated feet. Plus, more and more are working from home, so throwing on a pair of flip-flops, slides, slaps, thong sandals, or even jandals can be a sensible choice.


But what about in the car? Is it legal to drive in flip-flops? How about going footie commando? While neither is illegal, both barefoot driving and flip-flop wearing while driving may come with safety risks.


A 2013 study in Britain reports that flip-flops are responsible for up to 1.4 million near misses or accidents on the roads every year, with one in nine motorists getting one stuck under a pedal. Research shows that for women they are even more dangerous to drive in than high heels, as they make it more difficult to brake effectively.


This and similar research notwithstanding, whatever risk flip-flops may create has not been sufficient for any U.S. state to pass a law requiring safe footware or indeed the wearing of any sort of shoes while operating a motor vehicle.


The Society for Barefoot Living published the results of the research done by Jason Heimbaugh of Champaign, Illinois, who sent a letter to the DMV of all of fifty states asking if it were illegal to drive barefoot. Unanimously, the states said that it was not. The strictest state appears to be Alabama, which makes an exception for motorcycle riders only.


That’s not to say that driving barefoot or in flimsy flops cannot ever get you into trouble. If a police officer feels that your bare feet or slippery shoes were the cause of an accident, for example, he could cite you for a failure to exercise due care.


So although driving while barefoot is not, in and of itself, against the law, if your failure to wear something on your feet while driving is the cause of an accident, the lack of a law prohibiting barefoot driving will not be a defense.


Whether you drive with our without your shoes on, be careful, and never drive in a way that poses undue risks to yourself or others.




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