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Is your footwear road worthy?

It’s that time of year again, when we find ourselves tucking away those winter boots and dusting off our summer sandals. However, did you know you could get hit with a pretty hefty fine if you are caught at the wheel wearing flip flops?

Whilst not strictly illegal, wearing footwear that could be deemed as loose fitting or flimsy could land you with a fine of up to £5,000, nine points on your driving licence and in extreme cases a complete driving ban – that won’t help your wallet this summer! It can have some pretty serious consequences too. 

According to research conducted by a price comparison website, women are the biggest offenders when it comes to unsuitable footwear at the wheel. The study found that 40% of women openly admit to wearing flip flops whilst driving, and 39% have driven barefoot. In comparison, only a quarter (27%) of men admitted to driving in flip flops and 22% barefoot.

Under Rule 97 in the Highway Code, it states that all shoes and clothing worn whilst driving “must not prevent you using the controls in the correct and sensible manner.” So wearing flip flops, heels or even sandals could land you a fine if they don’t provide the correct amount of support or pressure needed for driving. They have even been known to come off or even get stuck beneath pedals!

Consequently, this can result in dangerous driving and potentially a serious accident. Some research even suggests that braking distances can increase by almost 4m when travelling 60mph in flip flops – that’s almost as bad as icy conditions.

So which footwear is deemed appropriate and road worthy? According to the RAC, here are five items you must consider before taking the wheel:

  • The sole mustn’t be too thin or soft
  • The shoe must provide enough grip to prevent slipping off pedals
  • The shoes must not be too heavy
  • Footwear must not restrict free ankle movement
  • Shoes must be narrow enough to avoid accidentally applying pressure to unintended pedals

These guidelines should also be considered when the weather turns cooler too. It isn’t just summer shoes that can slap you with a fine. Larger, chunkier footwear such as some winter boots and wellies are also regarded unsafe for driving due to the restriction in ankle movement and a significant reduction in pedal sensitivity.

Whilst comfort is one of our key considerations as motorists, especially for long journeys, it is important that you stay safe and wear shoes that give you full control and range of motion when driving. If you are caught for careless driving whilst wearing flip flops, or any footwear deemed unsafe, the consequences are certainly enough to put a dampener on your day.

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