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Your Feet Could Be Killing You if You Drive in the Wrong Shoes

by  on  Car & Motor Vehicle Accidents

In driver’s education classes, we all learned the importance of safe driving techniques, such as adjusting the mirrors in advance and reducing speed in bad weather. However, no one ever talks about the importance of wearing safe driving shoes. In some cases, the wrong footwear can make you more likely to be injured in a car crash.

Accident attorneys see situations all the time where certain types of shoes prevented drivers from avoiding a collision or even caused the accident directly. Learn what to avoid putting on your feet to keep the rest of your body safe while behind the wheel.

Driving Dangers: Seven Deadly Sins for Your Feet

There are many factors that can make shoes dangerous to drive in. While driving, your feet control your speed, and tiny differences in pedal pressure or delays in responding can impact your vehicle in tremendous ways. Below are some general footwear categories that could cause serious problems behind the wheel.

Don’t Drive in Work Boots or Hiking Boots

Work boots and hiking boots are stiff to protect feet and ankles from injury. However, this feature makes it difficult for drivers to get an accurate feel for the accelerator or brake pedal. This can lead to miscalculations when adjusting speed. Work boots and hiking boots also tend to be wider than other footwear, making it difficult to apply pressure on one pedal without touching the other.

Don’t Drive in High Heels (or Even Not-Very-High Heels)

Any shoes with a narrow heel, even those of a modest height, make it hard for the driver to pivot the right foot between the brake and gas pedal. This difficulty can cause drivers to hover their feet above the pedals, resulting in fatigue and longer reaction times. High heels have also been known to get caught under pedals. In at least one case, a court ruled that high heels contributed to the cause of a deadly head-on collision.

Don’t Drive in Slippers

Even with enclosed backs, slippers fit very loosely on the feet and are generally too malleable to serve as safe footwear for driving. The lack of traction and control can easily cause drivers to lose control of speed or braking ability.

Don’t Drive in Flip-Flops

Flip-flops may be the most commonly-worn dangerous driving shoe. The loose fit increases the likelihood of “pedal error.” They often get caught or slip off, causing drivers to feel around for the pedal. The lack of traction on the bottom of flip-flops also makes it difficult to keep the driver’s foot from sliding off the pedal.

Don’t Drive in New Shoes

New, unfamiliar shoes are likely to hit your foot at different pressure points than you are used to, which can cause a dangerous distraction while driving. In addition, new shoes are often slick on the bottom, reducing the ability to grip the pedals.

Don’t Drive in Platform Shoes

The thick, wide soles of platform shoes pose the same dangers as work boots, while the loose fit of many platform shoes gives them many of the drawbacks of slippers and flip-flops. 

Don’t Drive Barefoot

It may seem like you can avoid the hazards of dangerous shoes by taking them off and driving barefoot. However, this causes a new set of problems. It is hard to distribute the force of your foot while driving barefoot evenly, and you may not have enough strength to apply the brake effectively, particularly when the anti-lock brake system comes on.

Know Your Best Shoes for Driving

Paying attention to the factors that make the shoes above a poor choice for driving can help you find the best shoes in your closet to put on when you know you’ll be getting behind the wheel. You want shoes that offer:

  • Comfort for long periods
  • Traction on the bottom to grip the pedals
  • Soles thin enough to feel the nuances of the brake and accelerator
  • Soles thick enough to distribute the foot’s force effectively
  • Tight fit to stay on your feel
  • Wide heel surface to pivot the foot steadily

Many people find that athletic shoes work well for driving. It might be worthwhile keeping a spare pair in the car so that you’re always prepared to drive safely regardless of your fashion choice for the day.

Can Someone Be Held Liable for Driving in Shoes That Aren’t Safe?

Many factors often contribute to the cause of an accident, and shoes can be one of those factors. If you have been involved in an accident, it is crucial to collect as much evidence as possible to demonstrate the factors that led to the collision. Talk to a lawyer if you think someone’s poor choices—including footwear—helped cause your accident.