Summertime means flip-flops, long drives and days at the beach. But will your sunny-day adventure end if you get pulled over and cited for driving in flip-flops? While you may have heard that it is illegal to drive while wearing flop-flops, that is simply not true. Many states recommend that you not wear flip-flops when driving because doing so can be dangerous, but all 50 states allow you to drive a car in your footwear of choice. Flip-flops can fall off your feet and get stuck under the brake or gas pedal, making them a driving hazard. So is it better to drive barefoot?
Is It Illegal to Drive With Open-Toe Shoes?
Like driving while wearing flip-flops or driving barefoot, it is not illegal to drive with open-toe shoes. But open-toe shoes can also pose a hazard when driving as they can get stuck on a pedal and fall underneath. If your shoe falls off and you attempt to reach down for it, you can become distracted at the wheel. That, in turn, could lead to an accident. Be cautious when driving with open-toe shoes, especially if they have high heels, which can change your reaction time because of the angle of your foot.
Is it Illegal to Drive Barefoot?
Driving a car barefoot is also legal in every state. Some state highway patrols even recommend driving barefoot over wearing flip-flops, high heels or wedge shoes. The Missouri State Highway Patrol notes on its website that at times, it may even be safer to drive without shoes. Alabama is the only state where it is illegal to drive barefoot, but this applies only to those driving motorcycles or motor-driven cycles.
Is it Dangerous to Drive Barefoot?
Proponents of driving barefoot claim that you have more control over the pedals if you do not wear any shoes.While there are no laws against it, it can be dangerous to drive barefoot because your foot can easily slip off the gas or brake pedals, causing you to lose control of your car. If you get into an accident, you could be charged with reckless or negligent driving if the accident is deemed related to driving barefoot. You can also seriously injure your unprotected foot.
States That Advise Against Driving Barefoot
Though Alabama is the only state that explicitly makes it illegal to drive barefoot while driving a motorcycle, other states strongly advise against driving any vehicle in flips-flops or while barefoot. The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles encourages drivers to wear sneakers or low-heel flats shoes because vehicle control can be compromised.
Washington State troopers also encourage drivers to wear appropriate footwear to avoid causing accidents. If you break a law or cause a collision because of improper footwear in Washington, you could be cited for that specific violation like speeding, following too closely or driving with your wheels off the roadway.
Given all of that, you may want to consider what shoes you are wearing while driving your car. Keep an extra pair of appropriate driving shoes in your car so that you can swap out your flip-flops or open-toe shoes. Be sure to take your shoes off or swap shoes before you begin driving so that you’re not distracted. Also place them in the passenger or back seat so they can’t accidentally slide under the pedals.
It is not illegal to drive with flip-flops in any state.
Leslie Bloom earned a J.D. from U.C. Davis’ King Hall, with a focus on public interest law. She is a licensed attorney who has done advocacy work for children and women. She holds a B.S. in print journalism, and has more than 20 years of experience writing for a variety of print and online publications, including the Journal of Juvenile Law and Policy.