Is it illegal to drive in flip-flops or barefoot?

Is it illegal to drive in flip-flops or barefoot?

Last updated March 31, 2023

You might find yourself wondering whether it’s illegal to drive barefoot or in flip-flops in the UK, as there is some uncertainty surrounding this matter.

In this guide, we will explain the law (and potential consequences) around driving barefoot and in various types of footwear, such as flip-flops, high-heels and slippers. We’ll also clarify which types of footwear are safest for driving – and which should be avoided.

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Is it illegal to drive in flip-flops?

It isn’t illegal to drive in flip-flops, so long as you are able to operate the controls safely.

However, wearing flip-flops when driving can pose a risk to your safety, as they don’t have a back. Therefore, a flip-flop could get caught underneath a pedal, preventing it from being pushed down.

Does the DVLA have any footwear-related laws?

There are no specific laws concerning footwear whilst driving. However, Rule 97 of the Highway Code does state that the clothing and footwear you choose to wear whilst driving should not prevent you from using the controls properly.

Wearing flip-flops could be seen as an infringement of this rule, as your feet may slip and slide whilst wearing them.

Is it illegal to drive barefoot?

No, it isn’t illegal to drive barefoot, providing you can operate your car’s controls safely.

What if you’re caught driving barefoot?

If you are stopped by the police whilst driving barefoot and they consider you to not be in total control of the vehicle, or if you are involved in an accident whilst driving barefoot, you might be charged with driving without due care and attention.

Recommended footwear to drive in

  • Choose shoes that have enough grip to prevent slipping around, but also allow you to move your ankle and other parts of your foot freely.
  • Choose narrow shoes to ensure you don’t accidentally press two pedals at once.

Footwear to avoid whilst driving

  • Avoid shoes with very thin or soft soles.
  • Avoid shoes with soles that are thicker than 10mm, as this might reduce your awareness of the pressure applied to the pedals.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, you can legally drive in high heels, but this isn’t recommended, as there are many risks around doing so.

For instance, a stiletto might slip and get caught under the pedals, whereas a heavier heel will be heavier on the pedals and will require applying less pressure than you may be used to when wearing flatter shoes.

Before driving in heels, you might have to push your seat back to accommodate your increased stature, which can impact the safety of your driving if you are not used to this.

Ultimately, whether you can drive in high heels is a matter of personal judgement. However, it may be wise to keep a pair of flat shoes in your car for driving.

Driving in socks only can cause your feet to slip around and therefore, carries the same risks as driving barefoot or in flip-flops.

You can technically drive in slippers, but this could still get you into trouble with the law. Slippers’ soles don’t tend to have the same level of grip as those found on standard shoes.

Therefore, if you choose to drive wearing slippers, your foot could slip on the pedal - and you could be charged with driving without due care and attention if the police determine that your lack of shoes caused you to drive erratically.