For a long time, driving without a seatbelt was legal despite being risky and unsafe. Even when certain driving practices are legal, they aren’t always safe or advisable. One might say the same thing about driving without shoes.
New and seasoned drivers alike often share the notion that barefoot driving is illegal in all 50 states. But driving safety laws vary by state, and you must understand the regulations for the state you’re licensed to operate in and in areas where you plan to go. Read this article to understand whether your state laws permit driving barefoot and other safety considerations.
State Laws for Driving Barefoot
Most people learning to drive must sift through the myths and truths about state laws. Jaywalking is an offense in many cities, while the myth that you cannot drive with your vehicle’s internal lights on persists. One theory as to why the myth exists is that parents perpetuated it to keep their children from creating environments rife with distractions while they drove.
By saying something unsafe was illegal, children were more likely to abide by the rule. This same theory applies to driving barefoot: it’s so unsafe that it’s easier to convince people it’s illegal.
However, there are no states in the U.S where it’s against the law to drive automobiles without shoes or socks.
Barefoot drivers don’t even get pulled over for not wearing shoes. How could they when officers can’t see their feet? But, a cop may say something during a traffic stop when approaching the driver’s window.
While one cannot receive a traffic ticket for driving without shoes, cops may strongly advise the driver to wear some feet protection in the future. Drivers should be aware of the safety hazards of being barefoot while operating a motor vehicle.
Why Do People Want to Drive Barefoot?
Sometimes the answer to this question is as simple as, “It’s legal, so why not?” People enjoy feeling like they’re getting away with something or subverting the status quo. Though it sounds silly, “why not” is among the most common reasons people drive barefoot (and a question we will answer in the following section.)
Other reasons people drive barefoot vary. Some like going without shoes because they feel it is more natural. There’s a widespread movement of people ditching shoes as often as possible for health benefits or to commune with nature.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, some sneakerheads take off their shoes when driving to avoid creasing. Other shoe lovers wear uncomfortable shoes that make driving hard. These include giant platforms, heavy boots, and high heels.
They believe that wearing these types of shoes to drive is a safety hazard and that driving barefoot is preferable. When they remove their shoes to drive, they think it improves their grip on the car’s pedals. They feel more in control with less friction between the foot and the pedal.
There’s some merit to these theories. Some types of shoes are more dangerous to drive in than driving barefoot. But that doesn’t mean that driving barefoot is safe or advisable.
If you wear funky shoes a lot, consider keeping an extra pair of comfortable driving shoes in your car. That way, you can stay in fashion, drive in comfort, and avoid the safety concerns surrounding barefoot driving.
Safety and Driving Barefoot
Though legal, driving barefoot poses some safety hazards. Driving with our feet is so successful because it gives drivers the opportunity to focus on the road ahead without devoting too much attention to the pedals. But, driving without shoes creates distractions that detract from the driver’s attention to the road– this is the definition of distracted driving and can occur when:
- Loose shoes left on the floor shift while driving
- Driver’s bare feet lose traction on pedals
- Passengers draw attention to the driver’s bare feet
Distracted driving (which has an awareness month) is among the leading causes of traffic accidents. It can increase the risk of mistakes because you aren’t focusing on the road.
Moreover, while some think barefoot driving gives them more control on the pedals, sandy, wet, or slippery surfaces (like a sock) give you less control than most types of shoes. The result of driving under such conditions could mean making mistakes that could lead to an accident.
Finally, one of the most dangerous risks of barefoot driving isn’t about driving at all. Instead, it’s about what happens if you get in an accident. Driving without proper foot protection is more dangerous in the aftermath of a collision.
Typically, shoes protect your feet and skin from harm during car accidents. They provide a barrier between your feet and the road or keep synthetic materials from melding to your skin in case of a fire. Without shoes, you could have more complications during an accident that result in longer recovery or long-term damage to your feet.
Is Riding Motorcycles Barefoot Legal?
While riding motorcycles barefoot is legal in some states, it’s not allowed in others. For example, Massachusetts has laws that require motorcyclists to drive with shoes but riding a motorcycle in California without shoes is legal. State laws and recommendations vary, and your local DMV is an excellent place to learn more.
Is It Less Safe to Drive a Motorcycle Barefoot?
Yes, driving a motorcycle barefoot creates more risk for the driver than driving a car barefoot. The car provides a buffer from the road and other vehicles in case of a collision. Shoes are the second line of defense in these cases.
However, motorcycles leave the rider exposed. The only line of protection in case of a collision is your head protection, clothes, and shoes. Less protection increases the chances of a car accident becoming fatal.
Know Your State Laws With Defensive Driving Courses
The U.S. is home to many unusual laws, and with all the myths surrounding driving directions, it’s essential to learn which are accurate so you can become a good driver. With Drive Safe Online’s defensive driving courses, you can understand your state laws and get a break from your insurance costs.
Our safety courses can help you get the same car insurance coverage for a fraction of the price in your state. Our courses also qualify to help with traffic tickets in some states. If you’re unsure if the classes are for you, try our product risk-free with our free demo.