Footloose – how to drive safely this summer

June 6, 2017

From crocs to espadrilles, the fashion set are spoilt for choice this summer. But while stylish shoes may turn heads, they’re often an unsuitable choice for driving.
This is especially true of the most popular summer footwear. Research shows that wearing flip flops behind the wheel is a particular hazard, as they can slip off easily and jam under the pedals. It’s estimated the shoe is responsible for up to 1.4 million near misses or accidents on the UK’s roads every year.*
Surprisingly, driving in flip flops or even barefoot isn’t illegal in many European countries, including Britain, Germany and Italy, although “you could be prosecuted under the generic offence of ‘not being in proper control of a vehicle’ if a police officer were to stop you as a result of the poor way you were driving,’ said RAC spokesperson Simon Williams. “You always need to be able to apply sufficient braking force and this may not be the case in flip flops or bare feet.”
Heading abroad to France or Spain for your holidays? Make sure you pack a selection of footwear if you’re planning on hiring a car. Driving in flip flops is against the law in both countries – you risk a €90 fine if you’re caught wearing them behind the wheel in France and €200 in Spain.
Take note, festival goers – wellies and walking boots, while not illegal, also pose a risk. “Wearing shoes or boots that are too heavy or sturdy may not be very good either,” said Williams.
So what’s the ideal shoe for drivers? The RAC recommends** a sole no thicker than 10mm, but not too thin or soft. It shouldn’t limit ankle movement and should be narrow enough to avoid accidentally depressing two pedals at once.
Fear not – you can still stay on trend and play it safe on the roads. Driving shoes have soles that extend from the underside to the heel, facilitating a stronger grip – several leading sportswear brands have a number of options. And as activewear is huge right now, both on and off the catwalk, you can relax knowing you’re driving in style.