Flip flops are a type of footwear that are favoured by many in the summer months. As a summer staple and as the temperature in the UK heats up many are wondering should you be driving in flip flops? There is no specific law in the UK that states that driving in flip flops is illegal yet this does not tell us whether or this is a good idea! So, before you get behind the wheel of your vehicle, in your new Havianas, lets explore the choice of footwear and break it down.
Legally: Can you drive in flip flops?
Road safety in the UK has several Government bodies that either set or enforce policy to keep our roads and motorists safe. Some of these bodies include:
• The Department of Transport
• The Home Office
• The Highways Agency
• Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA)
• Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA)
None of these bodies currently have any specifics laws that stipulate that driving in flip flops is illegal. However, there is legislation inside the Highway Code that may cover this scenario. The Highway code, as administered by the DVSA, does detail Rule 97 that outlines a set of guidance for a motorist of their responsibilities before they set off. The specific point in reference is:
"clothing and footwear do not prevent you using the controls in the correct manner"
Therefore, with the above requirement it may be possible that if your flip flops impede your ability to control the vehicle in the prescribed manner then it could be deemed that wearing flip flops may be illegal for the reason that they prevent you from using the controls in the correct manner. This same regulation could also be used to describe other footwear including high heels, boots, sports shoes, designer shoes and even barefoot driving. Most importantly, it is not a specific shoe that is deemed illegal but rather any that restrict your ability to operate the pedals and overall control of the car. Certain shoes may therefore be not suitable in certain cars but okay in others. This is due to such variations as driving position and even the distance or position of the pedals.
If you are seen to be driving erratically then you are likely to be pulled over by the Police where this regulation could be used to fine you with a charge of Careless Driving. This charge is an on the spot fine of £100 and the addition of 3 penalty points on your licence.
Worst still, if you were to be unfortunate and find yourself in a motor vehicle accident and this was because of your footwear not been suitable then the charge could be much higher. Currently, the maximum fine that can be levied through the courts is a £5,000 fine and up to 9 penalty points on your licence. In certain circumstances, this could also affect your insurance coverage on the accident and in turn any future policies that you were looking to take out.
Why are flip flops dangerous to drive in?
Flip flops, in their standard design of a single sole with 1 front strap that has 3 anchor points as a result it is only the ball of your foot that is really secured to the rubber sole. When driving, your heel is a pivot point as you operate the pedals and as this is just resting on the shoe then it is not secured like it is with a traditional shoe. By not been secure it is prone to slip – especially for some motorists who may lift their heel when operating the pedals. This also can raise another problem with driving in flip flops in that you do not have enough strength to fully operate the pedals. The other issue with flip flops is the open toe design. As you move your foot around between the accelerator and the brake it may be possible that the sole gets trapped underneath the pedal and restricts your ability to then switch to the other pedal needed. It is important to not that for many, under normal driving conditions – there may not be a problem – but in an emergency situation where you are forced to react quickly then this could really hinder your ability to control your car. Further issues may arise from driving in flip flops such as if the sole is a lot thicker or thinner then what you are used to. This could change the normal position you drive in and again, restrict your ability to operate the vehicle.
Your tyre is not the only that may have a blow out when driving. The dreaded summer ‘flip flop blowout’ which sees the strap come through the sole could be detrimental when operating a car.
Many also wonder if it is illegal to drive barefoot. As above, whilst there are no specific laws mentioned you should always adhere to the Highway Code.
When one is driving, they also should remember that they have a responsibility not only to themselves and their passengers but also to society and the various other road users. As such the safety of everyone is important and we all should do our part to prevent any mishaps that we can.
It is the opinion of us at Car.co.uk that when driving it is best to always wear suitable footwear and if you are rocking your favourite ‘pluggers' and do not have any suitable footwear then it may be best to drive barefoot. The best advice we can give any motorist is to leave a spare pair of shoes in your vehicle that are suitable and comfortable for driving in and utilise these whenever you need to!