Is it Illegal to Drive Barefoot? – Forbes Advisor – Forbes

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Is it illegal to drive barefoot? It’s important to answer this question before driving with no shoes on because no motorist wants to get a ticket for breaking a traffic safety law.

Here’s what you need to know about barefoot driving rules across the United States.

Is it Illegal to Drive Barefoot?

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For those who like to drive shoeless, there’s some good news. There are no laws on the books in any of the 50 states of the U.S. that prohibit you from driving a car without footwear. If you are driving a motorcycle, though, you do need to have shoes on under Alabama state law. Alabama Code Title 32. Motor Vehicles and Traffic § 32-5A-245 states that “No person shall operate or ride upon a motorcycle or motor-driven cycle unless he or she is wearing shoes.”

This does not, however, mean that states encourage the practice. In fact, many states expressly mention that shoeless driving is dangerous including Nevada, which writes in a guide called the Parents Supervised Driving Program that “driving barefoot is unsafe,” and warns that “the wrong footwear can make for an unsafe situation” when a motorist needs to brake suddenly.

While driving with bare feet can present dangers, there are actually situations when it might be preferred if the alternative is wearing certain shoes that make vehicle control more difficult.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol website recommends wearing shoes while operating a vehicle but says that driving without shoes may be safer than wearing high heels, pumps, wedges or flip-flops because it is easier to manage the pedals without this type of footwear. It also points out that flip-flops can get caught under the pedals or slip when wet.


Is Driving Barefoot a Good Idea?

While driving shoeless is not illegal anywhere in the United States, this doesn’t mean it is a habit that you should adopt. That’s because barefoot driving can present a number of potential hazards. Some of the risks include:

  • Your bare feet could slip off the pedals more easily
  • You’ll need to put more pressure on the pedals to accelerate and brake
  • The pedals could be hot on bare feet
  • You could end up walking on broken glass or other dangerous materials in the event of an auto accident

If law enforcement officials believe that driving without shoes was a contributing factor to an accident—such as in situations where you lost control of the car because your feet slipped off the pedals—this could also result in a citation for reckless driving and could result in you being held legally liable for causing an accident.


Are There Any Benefits to Driving Barefoot?

While shoeless driving is usually a bad idea, there are some limited advantages.

  • It could be safer than driving with wedges, flip flops or other shoes that make it harder for you to use the pedals or that could become stuck under the car’s pedals
  • Some people find it more comfortable than driving with shoes
  • You could have a better feel for the pedals without shoes between your foot and the pedal

These benefits often do not outweigh the significant downsides, including the potential increased risk of causing an auto accident that you could be held legally responsible for.

If you are at fault for a crash, your bodily injury and property damage liability insurance coverage could cover victims’ damages. You could also be sued by those who you harm and required to compensate them for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and emotional distress.

Rather than driving barefoot, it is a better idea to keep a comfortable pair of safe shoes—such as soft-soled sneakers—in your vehicle. You can wear those shoes for driving if you have on footwear that is unsafe because of its potential impact on vehicle operation.


What If You Get Into a Collision With Someone Who Is Driving Barefoot?

If you are involved in a crash with someone who has no shoes on, their barefoot status will not necessarily make them liable for the auto accident. Some behaviors, such as driving intoxicated, create a presumption of negligence. That means it is assumed the motorist’s behaviors were so dangerous it is likely they led to the crash and your resulting injuries. Since driving barefoot is not illegal, it is not one of those behaviors.

If you want to recover compensation from the shoeless driver, you will need to show they were negligent in some way that resulted in the accident. You may be able to demonstrate this by showing their choice to drive without footwear led to their feet slipping off the pedals and their loss of control of the car.

Be sure to contact the police after any collision—especially one where the other driver wasn’t wearing shoes—and take care to point out the driver’s lack of footwear to the officer at the scene of the accident so it can be noted in the crash report along with other details leading up to the collision. This information can later be used to build a case if you pursue a car accident claim against the other driver. An experienced auto accident attorney can assist with gathering evidence and making your claim.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is driving barefoot illegal?

Driving a car barefoot is not illegal in any U.S. state. It is illegal to drive a motorcycle barefoot in Alabama. Many states discourage shoeless driving, however, citing it as unsafe behavior behind the wheel.

Is it safe to drive barefoot?

Driving barefoot can be safer than driving with certain kinds of shoes such as flip-flops, wedges or high heels. As a general matter, however, it is not as safe to drive without footwear because your feet could slip off the pedals and it will require greater pressure to brake and accelerate than if you have shoes.

Why do people say it’s illegal to drive barefoot?

Many people believe it is illegal to drive a car without shoes because states discourage the practice and they may have heard in driver education classes or from other sources that it is unsafe. But, while it is a common myth that you can’t drive shoeless, the reality is the practice is not illegal anywhere in the U.S.

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