Drivers wearing flip flops risk a fine

06/07/2020

As the UK bathes in warm sunshine, motorists are being warned not to make a costly mistake with their footwear. Drivers getting behind the wheel wearing flip flops could find themselves out-of-pocket or even banned.

While technically not against the law, Rule 97 of the Highway Code, states that drivers must have footwear and clothing which "does not prevent you using the controls in the correct manner.”

Flip flops can be seen as contravening this.

What is so risky about flip flops? They could slip off, become wedged under pedals or prevent you from pressing the pedals with enough force to brake quickly, which could cause you to drive erratically or lead to a collision.

If you're in an accident and the police see you’re wearing flip flops, you could be liable for a "driving without due care and attention" charge - which carries a £100 on-the-spot fine and three penalty points on your licence. Should the incident go to court that rises to a maximum £5,000 fine, nine penalty points and potentially a driving ban.

Is barefoot driving permitted? According to the Driving Standards Agency – the body that regulates the UK driving test – “suitable shoes are particularly important behind the wheel. We would not recommend driving barefoot because you don’t have the same braking force with bare feet as you do with shoes on.”

The RAC have issued some basic guidelines to follow. Your shoe should:

  • Have a sole no thicker than 10mm, but the sole should not be too thin or soft.
  • Be narrow enough to avoid accidentally depressing two pedals at once.
  • Provide enough grip to stop your foot slipping off the pedals.
  • Not be too heavy.
  • Not limit ankle movement.

This does technically categorise some types of footwear – such as high-heels and flip flops – unsuitable for driving a car.

It isn’t just summer footwear which might get you in trouble. RAC guidance stresses: "while light, flimsy and impractical footwear can be dangerous, so can sturdy, robust shoes, such as walking or snow boots.”