Hollay Ghadery Last Updated On: September 8, 2023

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Is Driving Barefoot Illegal? Find Out Here

Drive Barefoot

Your instinct is that driving barefoot is probably illegal. And you wouldn’t be alone: many people seem to have heard the same urban myth that driving barefoot is against the law. And while it may have just been our parents and driving instructors trying to scare us into safe driving practices, the fact is that it’s actually not against the law to drive barefoot. 

Now, whether or not you should drive barefoot is another question entirely, and we’ll get into that and more, next.

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Is It Illegal to Drive Barefoot in Any State?

If the thrill of driving with your dogs out can’t be contained, here’s the good news: no matter what state you call home, it’s not illegal to drive barefoot. That being said, individual towns or cities could have their own rules around driving barefoot, but at the state level at least, it’s not illegal. 

In many states, they do specify that driving a motor vehicle barefoot isn’t illegal, but that you do need proper footwear to drive a motorcycle. Many other states simply don’t address barefoot driving at all, which means there’s no law against it. 

You might not get in trouble for driving barefoot, but that doesn’t mean you’re scot-free. There are real risks to foregoing shoes in the car, which we’ll explore next. 

The Risks of Driving Barefoot

There’s a reason there’s such a common misconception that driving barefoot is illegal, and it has a lot to do with the safety considerations of going toes-free in the car. Here are some of the reasons why you should avoid baring your feet while behind the wheel:

  • You don’t have as much grip on the pedals in bare feet, which can cause your feet to slide off the pedal (especially if wet)
  • You get more leverage and force in shoes for quick, strong braking that you wouldn’t have in bare feet
  • Your bare feet are more vulnerable to pebbles or sharp objects in the car that prevents you from braking or accelerating when needed
  • If you’re in an accident, being barefoot can cause worse injury to your feet or cause you more harm when you try to move to safety 

And here’s the kicker: while it’s not technically illegal to drive barefoot, it is illegal to let your bare feet (or anything else) distract you from driving or cause careless driving. If you’re pulled over for distracted driving and the police officer believes being barefoot contributed to that, you could be slapped with heavy fines that impact your driving record for years to come.

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The Importance of Good Footwear While Driving

So now you know that driving barefoot is dangerous. But that doesn’t mean that any and all footwear is better than none. In fact, some footwear can be just as risky as going shoes-free. 

Flip flops are often the top offenders. While they’re lightweight and comfortable, they’re not great for driving because they can easily slip off and leave you scrambling. They could even get wedged under the pedal and cause an accident. 

Other shoes you might want to avoid behind the wheel include:

  • High heels
  • Work or hiking boots 
  • Open-toed shoes 
  • Slip-on shoes
  • Slippers
  • Wedge heels
  • Boots or shoes with very thick soles

You’re probably wondering, what shoes are even left? The best shoes for driving are shoes that have grip, short laces, covered toes, and no heel or a low heel. 

We get it: this might put a damper on your fashion choices. But you don’t have to rework your entire outfit to drive safely. Simply keep a pair of safe driving shoes in your trunk and swap them out whenever you are wearing shoes that aren’t ideal for driving. 

And before you try socks as a loophole, think again: socks have even less grip than bare feet and are just as much of a risk as barefoot driving. Put on some shoes, for the good of yourself, other drivers, and your passengers. 

Are You Covered By Insurance If You Drive Barefoot?

Even if driving barefoot isn’t illegal, you want to be sure that you’re not sacrificing insurance coverage if you happen to get behind the wheel with your hoofs out. The good news is that you will still be covered by insurance if you drive barefoot and get into an accident, as long as your bare feet didn’t contribute to or cause the accident.

Final Thoughts: Is Driving Without Shoes Illegal?

While no one is quite sure where this myth came from, the quick answer is that no, driving barefoot is not illegal. But just because it’s not against the law doesn’t mean you should do it. 

Driving without shoes puts you, other drivers, and passengers at risk. The fact is that bare feet simply don’t have as much grip as shoes do and you can distribute pressure as evenly or forcefully on the pedal without a sole. 

And even though driving barefoot isn’t technically illegal, you could get in trouble if your bare feet contribute to or cause an accident—and no one wants that. So, get yourself on solid ground by donning a pair of good shoes before getting behind the wheel, and we’ll all be safer for it. 

But you need more than a good pair of shoes before igniting the engine. You also need solid car insurance that will have your back, regardless of whether or not you’re wearing shoes. We’ve got you covered. Get access to completely free car insurance quotes here, and no we’re not pulling your leg. 

Safe driving!

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Hollay Ghadery Hollay Ghadery is a writer and editor who is passionate about financial literacy as a means to personal fulfillment. Hollay has over 18 years of experience creating content about a range of topics related to personal finance, including insurance, investing, banking, and credit cards. When Hollay isn't writing, she's spending time with her four children, two dogs, and three goats.

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