Is It Illegal To Drive Barefoot?

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When making a quick trip on a hot summer’s day, driving without shoes on can seem like a tempting and comfortable alternative compared to driving with thick, enclosed shoes. Whilst major traffic offences such as speeding and driving recklessly are common knowledge, other traffic rules provoke uncertainty. With many strict road rules, it is unsurprising that motorists are faced with many grey areas around the laws and legislations of driving. While there’s a lot of confusion around the rules, today we’ll answer one of the most commonly asked questions – is it illegal to drive barefoot? In short, no, driving without shoes on is perfectly legal, however, before you get behind the wheel barefoot, make sure you are considering the following important factors.

Unusual rules about driving without shoes on

No Australian states and territories have outlawed driving barefoot or wearing inappropriate footwear while driving, however the NSW Road Rules Act 2008 states that the driver must still take all precautions to drive in the safest manner possible. NSW road rule 297(1) states that you must have proper control of your vehicle, and therefore, you could be held responsible for an accident if police believe driving barefoot was a factor that contributed to your accident. In VIC, police recommend wearing sturdy footwear and warn that inappropriate footwear has a negative impact on retaining full and proper control of your vehicle. In QLD, it’s only legal to drive barefoot if you’re driving a car – defined as a vehicle weighing less than 4.5 tonnes gross vehicle mass. This means that although driving barefoot is legal, a driver should bear in mind that if an accident were to occur, investigations would take place relating to if inappropriate footwear played a role. If you are deemed guilty, you may receive a substantial fine along with the loss of demerit points. Below is an example scenario of how this could easily occur.

Example

If you need to brake suddenly, you may find yourself reluctant to smash your feet into the pedals due to a fear of kicking your toe or slamming your feet on metal. Due to this interference, you are unable to slow down and hit a car at the intersection, and they abruptly hit their brakes causing a pile up of cars. An investigation by police determines that you were at fault due to your inappropriate choice of footwear. You are issued with a traffic offence and fined a hefty amount, in addition to your drivers licence being suspended for six months.

Why do motorists think it is illegal to drive without shoes on?

It is not known where the misconceptions around driving barefoot originated. Many drivers may assume that it is illegal to drive barefoot or are unaccepting of this fact because most people choose to drive with shoes on. Regardless of the misconception, the best way to avoid an accident on the roads is to be cautious and make smart choices, including careful consideration of footwear.

Why is driving without shoes on a potential safety hazard?

Whilst it is not illegal to drive barefoot, it can still be considered a safety hazard in the eyes of the law. Before you leave your shoes behind, here are a few factors to consider about the potential risks of driving barefoot: 

  • Operating pedals with bare feet can become slippery due to insufficient grip, especially when wet.
  • Barefoot driving may mean a driver cannot apply the same braking force as it requires drivers to exert a lot of pressure on the ball of their foot, whereas the sole of a shoe distributes pressure evenly.
  • In the event of an accident, driving without shoes on could be considered distracted driving and you may be fined if police suspect driving barefoot was the cause.
  • In the event of a crash, appropriate driving shoes can offer a reduction in foot injury and allow you to retreat to safety quicker if you have to tread on broken glass and debris.

Which shoes are more dangerous than driving barefoot?

If the only pair of shoes you have on hand reduces your ability to accelerate or affects your operation of the pedals, driving barefoot is advisable. Wearing heels, thongs, slip-ons, socks, and open toed shoes may inhibit one’s control over a vehicle.

It is advised to wear shoes with little to no heel or shoes that are not too thick for optimal control while driving in regulating speed and braking and controlling the pedals. Slip-on and open-toed shoes may also be more dangerous than driving barefoot as they increase the risk of the shoe catching on the pedal or getting jammed underneath. It is also advised that driving in socks could be just as risky, as you may not have as much control over the pedal. If you ever find yourself in a situation where you only have hazardous shoes it is best to drive barefoot, however, we suggest avoiding this situation altogether by leaving a spare pair of safety shoes in the car.

Conclusion

While there are no specific laws in place concerning driving barefoot, wearing appropriate and comfortable shoes is recommended to prevent one less factor in an accident. This means a driver should not wear high heels or flip flops that can be extremely dangerous by causing unnecessary driving hazards. In situations where your shoes may hinder your driving, driving barefoot is advisable, but ultimately try to keep a pair of safety shoes in your car that you can change into for the duration of your drive. Before starting your engine, it’s important to ensure that you have considered the safest option to avoid a car accident or placing others at risk. If you require assistance for any legal issues, Our Legal Kitz business specialists can assist with ensuring that your concerns are addressed, and can provide you with advice that is tailored to your situation. You can book a free 30-minute consultation via our website now.