The Dangers of Wearing Sandals While Driving
Wearing sandals while driving can be a dangerous choice as they do not provide sufficient protection for the feet. Many people do not consider how their choice in footwear can be a potential danger when getting behind the wheel.
But, research has proven that flip-flops and other types of footwear can be extremely hazardous while driving.
As a matter of fact, about 1.4 million auto accidents occurred when drivers’ sandals blocked them from pressing the gas, brake, and clutch pedals. Due to these obstructions, the drivers were not able to make the proper driving maneuvers which caused collisions.
In the event of an accident, insurance companies and personal injury lawyers may argue that the driver was at fault due to the choice of impractical footwear.
To ensure driver safety, it is recommended to opt for sturdy and well-fitting shoes with flat soles that provide a good grip and allow the driver to safely operate the pedals.
Below is a list of statistics regarding the hazards of wearing flip-flops while driving.
- About 33% of Americans operate vehicles while wearing flip-flops.
- One in ten of these persons confess that their flip-flops have been trapped under the pedals at least once.
- A driver wearing the proper footwear and operating a car under normal conditions can react to road conditions within 0.02 seconds. A person wearing flip-flops takes double that amount of time to react.
Other Potentially Dangerous Footwear for Driving
Studies show that other types of shoes can create hazardous driving conditions, too. Most of these shoes include those with the following designs.
- Thick soles
- Thin soles
- Minimal surface areas
- Constrained ankle movement
- Weak structures
- Lack of grip
Below is a list of other potentially unsafe footwear to wear while behind the wheel.
- Strappy sandals
- Slippery, non-grip shoes such as bowling shoes
- Ankle-high or knee-high boots
- Running shoes with thick soles
- Tennis shoes with thick soles
While thick soles in shoes offer good traction and stability, they can also pose a potential hazard while driving. Thick soles can increase the distance between the foot and the pedals, resulting in difficulty in applying the correct amount of pressure. Drivers may not be able to feel the pedals properly, which can lead to pedal errors and accidents.
Thick-soled shoes may catch or get stuck under the pedals, making it challenging to move your foot smoothly between pedals. This can cause a delay in braking or accelerating, leading to dangerous situations on the road.
Wearing shoes with thin soles while driving may provide better pedal feel, making it easier to control the amount of force applied to the pedals. However, these types of shoes can pose significant dangers to drivers. Thin soles do not provide sufficient protection for your feet in the event of an accident.
Gas, brake, and clutch pedals all require a different amount of pressure to operate effectively. With thin-soled shoes, it can be challenging to judge the amount of pressure required on the pedals. This may lead to delayed reactions, slow braking, and lower responsiveness, increasing the risk of an accident.
Minimal Surface Area
Wearing footwear with minimal surface area can have a negative impact on driving ability. Shoes with minimal surface area can make it challenging to maintain foot control while operating the gas, brake, or clutch pedals.
This is because, with smaller surface areas, it is more difficult to grip the pedals effectively. The cushioning and grip required to operate the pedals of a car need a certain amount of surface area to ensure proper control.
Inadequate foot control can impede pedal grip, causing the feet to slip and increasing the likelihood of an accident.
Constrained Ankle Movement
Constrained ankle movement is a common issue among drivers who wear high heels or platform shoes while driving. The angle of the foot in these types of shoes can cause fatigue in the ankle, leading to muscle and joint problems. This discomfort can also lead to distracted driving, which can increase the risk of accidents occurring.
When the ankle is constrained, the driver may not be able to react quickly or effectively to road hazards such as sudden stops or obstructions.
Wearing high heels or platform shoes can restrict the range of motion in the ankle, which can cause discomfort and pain over time. This discomfort can also lead to a higher level of distraction while driving, thereby negatively impacting driver safety.
Weak structures not only put the driver’s feet at risk of injury in the event of an accident but also pose risks while driving. The weak structure lack stability and support, making it difficult for drivers to efficiently operate pedals. This may result in delayed reaction time, misjudging distances, or not braking in time for abrupt stops, which can lead to accidents.
They could damage shoes or cause them to be trapped under the pedals when drivers apply brakes or gas pedals. This pedal obstruction can cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle or not respond as quickly as needed, leading to accidents on the road.
Lack of Grip
Slippery soles, platform shoes, or high heels do not provide enough traction for the foot to stay in place while pressing the gas or brake pedals. This is a critical issue since it can lead to pedal control problems, making it challenging to respond appropriately in case of an emergency.
Platform shoes can be dangerous to wear while driving due to their thick soles, which can make it difficult to properly press the pedals. The height of the platform can cause issues with pedal pressure, potentially leading to accidents. This is especially true in emergency situations where the driver needs to react quickly and accurately.
Specific types of platform shoes, such as wedges or chunky heels, can also cause problems when driving, even if they have a flat sole. The thick sole can make it harder to feel the pressure needed to press the pedals properly, and may lead to pressing both pedals at once or using the wrong amount of pressure. 
Stilettos are not a safe shoe option when driving due to their high heel height and narrowness. When wearing stilettos, there is a false sense of pressure on the pedals. The heel can create an awkward angle for the foot, causing difficulty when trying to apply the right amount of pressure to the gas pedal or brake pedal. Stilettos can also easily slip off the foot and get stuck under the pedals, which creates a dangerous situation while driving.
If your stilettos do get stuck, you may panic and push the pedal too hard or release it too quickly, leading to sudden stops or acceleration. This type of mistake can cause accidents, so it is important to wear proper driving shoes while behind the wheel.
Wearing strappy sandals while driving may seem stylish and comfortable, but it can be a potential danger on the road. These types of shoes lack proper support and stability, which is essential for accurate and safe driving.
The lack of support can cause your feet to slip off the pedals, driving your car out of control. The straps can easily get caught on the pedals, causing dangerous distractions and increasing the risk of accidents.
Slippery, non-grip shoes
Shoes with smooth soles, like dress shoes or high heels, can be problematic and even cause pedal errors due to a lack of proper traction. Enclosed slippers also provide insufficient pedal traction, and flip-flop style slippers provide even less. Such shoes increase the chances of slipping off the pedals, resulting in an accident.
Ankle-high or Knee-high Boots
When it comes to driving, ankle-high or knee-high boots may appear fashionable and trendy, but they are not the safest option. Boots with constrained ankle movement and weak structures can make one lose control over their pedals. Boots with thick and heavy soles can cause accidental pedal depressions, leading to slower reaction time or unexpected acceleration.
Drivers should opt for appropriate boots that have a sole no thicker than 10mm and provide enough grip on the pedals. Boots that do not limit ankle movement are better suited for driving, as they allow for easy and quick operation of the pedals.
Types of Appropriate Footwear for Driving Safely
When it comes to driving, the right kind of footwear is essential for your safety on the roads. Wearing the wrong shoes can lead to accidents, pedal error, distraction, and loss of control. That’s why choosing appropriate footwear for driving is not just a matter of comfort or fashion, but a critical part of driver safety.
Some of the types of appropriate footwear for driving safely include flat shoes, sneakers, loafers, moccasins, boat shoes, and driving shoes.
These types of shoes have some common features that make them suitable for driving: they provide good grip, comfort, and flexibility, without impeding your movement or interfering with the pedals. Flat shoes with non-slip soles are preferred by many drivers because they offer stable and consistent contact with the pedal surface.
Sneakers or tennis shoes are also a good option as they are designed for active movement, have a wide sole, and provide adequate support for your feet. 
Loafers, moccasins, and boat shoes are stylish and comfortable, with a non-marking sole that prevents scuffing of pedals.
Driving shoes, on the other hand, are specifically made for driving and have a thin and flexible sole that allows for better feel and control of the pedals.
Ultimately, the type of footwear you choose for driving depends on your personal preferences, driving style, and the type of vehicle you’re driving.
Always prioritize safety and comfort over fashion or convenience, and remember, impractical footwear can be a hazard and is best left for off-road adventures!
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 How Shoes Affect Driving Performance | FAAWC Blog | Ohio Podiatrist. (2020, September 17). Foot and Ankle Wellness Center. https://faawc.com/how-shoes-affect-driving-performance/