How Shoes Affect Driving Performance

In 1903, two states (Massachusetts and Missouri) issued the very first driver’s licenses—no test required. Nowadays, we have almost 275 million cars on the road in the United States alone and approximately 6 million accidents annually nationwide. Many things can affect our ability as drivers, but did you know that your foot health and even the shoes you are wearing can impact your driving performance?

What Are the Worst Shoes to Wear While Driving?

This one’s easy—flip flops. About one-third of all drivers wear flip-flops behind the wheel. Flip-flops are said to be the cause of almost 1.4 million accidents or near misses every year. One in nine motorists admits that their flip-flop got stuck under the pedal causing delayed reactions. 

Why Are Flip Flops Bad for Driving?

There are plenty of statistics to back up the facts, but let’s do some math:

The average reaction time to fully engage the brakes on a car is lengthened by 0.13 seconds when wearing flip-flops. At a speed of 60 miles per hour, this would mean traveling more than an extra ten feet before coming to a stop. Do you leave an extra ten feet between you and the car in front of you every time you wear flip=flops? I’m thinking your answer is no.

Flip-flops provide almost no security for your feet. In fact, they can even fall off while you are driving and get wedged beneath the pedals. You may be thinking that if you just slip them off, that would be better. While driving barefoot is not technically illegal in the United States, it is frowned upon, as your feet can easily slip off the pedal. If you are in an accident and the police determine that your lack of footwear contributed to the situation, you can be cited for reckless driving.

What About Driving in High Heels?

Flip-flops are actually considered more dangerous than high heels behind the wheel, perhaps because both men and women wear them, but that doesn’t mean that high heels are in any way safe. Think about the last pair of stilettos you wore, how easy are they to walk in? For most women, high heels make walking a challenge. Why would we think that driving would be any different?

One of the downfalls to high heels is the lack of stability the actual heel provides. With a small surface area and steep angle, the heel cannot rest on the floor evenly which means the chances of your foot slipping off the pedal are increased. Sadly, the majority of women decide to put fashion before safety.

What Shoes Should I Wear to Drive Safely?

Experts recommend wearing secure shoes while driving. This could be a pair of athletic shoes, loafers, or any other pair that fits snugly around your foot on all sides. Backless shoes or anything without good traction on the sole can mean your foot or shoe slipping off the pedal. You can always change into your high heels (or flip-flops) when you reach your destination. Remember, there are plenty of pairs of shoes out there, but only one of you. Protect yourself, your loved ones, and every other driver on the road by choosing proper footwear.

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