There’s a common belief that it’s illegal to drive if you’re not wearing shoes. Is this really true? Can you break the law by getting behind the wheel with nothing on your feet?
There is no California law explicitly prohibiting driving while barefoot. However, driving without shoes could still land you in trouble.
Laws Don’t Target Bare Drivers
They’re actually aren’t any federal or state laws that make it illegal to operate a motor vehicle while barefoot. Some states, like Virginia, urge drivers to wear shoes for their safety and others. Language in on the Virginia DMV website States “while wearing certain types of footwear while driving or driving barefoot is not illegal, vehicle control can be compromised, and it is not recommended.” However, you can’t get a ticket just for not wearing shoes.
The same holds true in California. If you want to hop in the car without your flip-flops after visiting a Los Angeles beach or kick off your high heels after a business meeting, you’re free to get behind the wheel without shoes.
Many Argue Some Shoes Increase the Risk of a Crash
If you’re wearing sneakers or comfortable casual shoes, it’s unlikely that you’ll take them off to drive a car. However, you may be more likely to ditch other types of footwear including flip-flops, high heels, boots, and slippers. Many drivers firmly believe that wearing these types of shoes while driving is dangerous.
- Flip flops can slip off the foot and get caught underneath or between pedals.
- High heels can restrict motion of the foot.
- Slick shoe soles can slip on gas and brake pedals.
- These shoes can be uncomfortable and create a distraction for drivers.
- These shoes can increase the amount of time it takes to hit the brakes.
Drivers who prefer to go barefoot often claimed that they feel more in control of the vehicle when their bare foot is directly on the gas and brake pedals.
Studies Reveal Dangers of Wearing Flip Flops While Driving
Is it really dangerous to wear flip-flops or high heels while driving? Some studies suggest that drivers hesitant to wear shoes may be onto something. One British study found that about a third of all drivers wear flip-flops behind the wheel. The same study found that flip flops contribute to about 1.4 million car accidents every year. that’s more than a million accidents that could have been avoided had drivers worn nothing on their feet or a different type of shoe.
Does this mean that it’s dangerous to wear any type of shoe while you’re driving a vehicle? No. However, it does suggest that you need to make smart choices about what type of footwear you use when you get behind the wheel.
The fact that certain types of shoes may increase the risk of an accident may help to explain why laws do not prohibit driving barefoot.
Driving Barefoot Can Still Get You Into Legal Trouble
Driving without shoes isn’t explicitly against the law. However, you do have an obligation to use care and caution when you’re driving a car. You have to make decisions and choices that will limit the chance of causing an accident or harm. this can include decisions about what shoes, if any, you decide to wear.
Making the wrong choice about your foot where could potentially violate California state reckless driving laws. Reckless driving is defined in Vehicle Code 23103 VC as operating “a vehicle upon a highway in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” This could cover a wide range of behaviors and decisions behind the wheel. If choosing not to wear shoes clearly put others in danger or increases the chances that you’ll get into an accident, you could be found in violation of 23103 VC.
Deciding not to wear shoes could also be considered negligent. If you’re involved in an accident and weren’t wearing shoes at the time, others involved in the crash may try to use that against you. If your decision not to wear shoes contributed to the crash in any way, you could be partially or fully liable for any injuries that result.
You don’t have to wear shoes when you drive in Los Angeles. You need to make the decision that’s best for you and safest for others. In the event that you are in a car accident, it’s important to speak with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Your lawyer will help protect you and fight to get the compensation you deserve as you recover from your injuries.