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Is Driving Without Shoes Illegal?

Is Driving Without Shoes Illegal?

Whether you’re driving on the highway or coming from the beach, there are times we prefer to drive without all of our clothes on.

Some people say that it gives them a better feel while braking and accelerating, while others do it just because they feel like doing so. 

For some, it has become a habit hidden from law enforcement officers.

But is it illegal to drive without shoes?

No federal or state law prohibits drivers from driving without shoes. Most states consider barefoot driving unsafe practice and recommend against it. In some states, such as Alabama, you will be charged for reckless driving if being shoeless while driving results in a road accident. 

So, to be safe, it’s better to drive with your shoes on. However, scenarios exist whereby driving without shoes is the better option. 

Read on to find out more.

Can You Drive Without Shoes?

Yes, you can.

Driving barefoot is better than driving in high heels, wedges, or flip-flops. Proponents of shoeless driving support the practice for the following reasons.

Better grip: Human feet, like human hands, can grip, bend, and reach zones on the brake or gas pedal that some shoes don’t. 

Better control: Bare feet have better control than some shoes, such as flip flops, since you’re not in fear of them slipping out from your feet.  

Comfort: It’s more comfortable to drive barefoot than driving in shoes that are uncomfortable to wear. Some drivers find driving long distances very intensive and sweaty, especially during the summer. They then prefer to drive without shoes. 

Will Driving Barefoot Lower Your Insurance Claim?

Technically, since it’s legal to drive without shoes, doing so won’t in any way affect your insurance cover. 

However, if your driving without shoes results or is linked to an accident, you may not receive any claims payout depending on your insurer. 

Check with your insurer if your county or city has different laws on driving without shoes.

Counties, cities, and towns are at will to alter or form some unofficial laws if they deem that doing so is in the public’s interest. If driving barefoot results in more accidents in a particular area, the local jurisdiction may favor driving with shoes on. 

The fact that driving without shoes isn’t prohibited doesn’t mean it’s to be misused.

Is Driving Barefoot a Potential Safety Risk?

Most states advise against driving without shoes, which means that the practice is not as safe as you might assume. If you’re to drive without shoes, you need to be very sober and exercise the highest levels of caution. 

Here are reasons why driving without shoes might be dangerous.

  • In the case of an accident or a road emergency, driving shoeless lowers your ability to get to safer ground. Walking without shoes on the tarmac is uncomfortable. 
  • It also hinders your driving in case of a foot injury. When driving with shoes, your chances of getting injured by the gas and brake pedals is very low. 

And if you have a recurring foot injury, driving shoeless may trigger it, inflicting more pain. The pain and discomfort lower your responsiveness. 

  • There’s an increased chance of slipping if you start sweating on your soles. Driving while wearing stockings also lessens the grip that you’re exerting on the foot pedals. 
  • Shoes are more inflexible and rigid than a human’s bare feet. You’ll not apply the same braking pressure on your foot pedal while barefoot as you would with shoes on. 
  • When dry and soft, human feet have a surprisingly tremendous amount of grip that surpasses some shoes. When wet, they’re very slippery and tend to slide off the brake and gas pedals while driving. 

If you’ve just been rained on while barefoot or in flip flops, or you’ve just come out of the pool with wet feet, it’s better that you dry your feet first. 

  • Your discarded shoes might block the pressing of the pedals, making it difficult to stop, accelerate, or decelerate on time.

Law enforcement officers are against improper driving without shoes, and in the case of an accident, you might end up getting booked for reckless driving. 

Do the Shoes You Wear While Driving Matter?

Yes. The best driving shoes offer a balance between comfort and functionality. They should have a good grip that allows you to apply a measured pressure to the gas and brake pedals.

They should also feel safe to wear and not affect your natural body position on your driver’s seat. 

When Looking for Driving Shoes, Look for the Ones That:

  • Have a firm sole that’s no thicker than 2.5 centimeters but not too thin and soft
  • Provide enough grip on the vehicle floor and the pedals
  • Don’t limit your ability to move your ankles freely
  • They are wide enough to allow you to apply foot pressure on the pedals but not too wide that you might end up pressing two pedals with one shoe.

Which Shoes Should You Avoid While Driving?

Some shoes are more dangerous to you while driving to the extent that you’re better off driving without them. These are shoes that lower your controls and concentration levels.

Here’s a list of the shoes that you should avoid.

  • Open heeled sandals
  • Flimsy shoes 
  • Wedge heels 
  • Shoes with long laces
  • Flip flops
  • Shoes with slippery soles and slippery stockings
  • Shoes with big heavy soles

High heels have minimal grip, and it’s difficult to accurately measure the amount of force to apply on your brake and gas pedals. 

I’d further advise against driving in high knee-length boots as they are very restrictive and may force you to shift your driving position in the pursuit of comfort. 

A good driving position allows you to have both heels on the vehicle floor. Your feet positioning will be slightly higher than what some drivers are used to with high heels. 

However, as uncomfortable as they are, some people are accustomed to driving in high heels. 

Can You Ride a Motorcycle Without Shoes?

In 49 states, no law prohibits a person from riding a motorcycle while shoeless. Alabama is the only one that requires all motorcycle riders to wear shoes when they’re riding on the roads. 

Riding a motorcycle without the right gear is a hazardous move that’s highly discouraged by the public, the police, and biker organizations for safety reasons. 

Furthermore, rear-wheel brakes and gear levers on motorcycles are not the softest that you can think of—shifting gears while barefoot or with flip flops is uncomfortable and may cause soft tissue injuries to your feet. 

Conclusion

As much as driving without shoes is legal, you shouldn’t use it as an excuse to drive recklessly. 

Your other driving behaviors matter, too, and they may be the deciding factors to determine whether you’re a danger to yourself and other road users or not. 

Additionally, check with your local jurisdiction to determine if their laws on driving without shoes complement or oppose the state laws. 

Zach Reed

Hi, I'm the founder of VehicleAnswers.com! Having owned a wide variety of vehicles in my life, I was astounded at how hard it can be to find answers to common automotive questions. Rather than sit idly, I decided to create this website to help others!