Is It Illegal to Drive Barefoot?

What seems like overnight for most, driving becomes second nature. The nerves and hyper-sensitivity behind the wheel are gone. Most people fall into the habit of getting comfortable and going. And for some drivers, comfortable driving means driving barefoot. If you’re a barefoot driver, you might be wondering. Can you drive barefoot legally? 

Two police officers pulling over a for unsafe or illegal activity black car.
Police pulled over a car | Getty Images

Before you get too panicked, the answer to the question, can you drive barefoot, is yes. There isn’t a single U.S. state with legal restrictions about wearing shoes when behind the wheel. However, it is recommended that you be mindful of any more local municipalities that might have some language in writing about barefoot driving.

Bankrate points out in a recent review that it is also overwhelmingly frowned upon, at the state level, to drive sans footwear. States including Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, and Wyoming have formal sentiments about barefoot driving as an unsafe practice, although entirely legal. And in some states, there are requirements for foot coverings to operate a motorcycle, including Alabama. 

Why barefoot driving is unsafe

Some speculate where the urban legend behind driving barefoot being illegal began. Some suggest that because most people drive with shoes, driving without them is just an unwritten rule. And there is some truth behind the unsafe conditions that present when your bare toes are on the pedal. 

In some states, according to Bumper, getting into an accident where barefoot driving contributed can result in a reckless driving or negligence ticket. It’s understood that without wearing shoes, your foot can inadvertently apply too much or not enough pressure promptly to avoid incidents. It’s also a concern that slipping off the pedal with bare feet can lead to potential collisions. Geico reported stats from the NHTSA that cited some 16,000 accidents happen every year due to driver pedal errors alone. 

The best shoes for driving

Ryan Pietzsch, a driver safety education expert with the National Safety Council, says, “the wrong kind of shoe can cause a hazard or obstruction while driving.” So, can you drive barefoot? Yes. Should you? No. 

Here are a few shoe types that many sources consider less safe to drive in than others. Flip-flops, for example, can easily come off your foot or get caught under the pedal. High heels make it harder to apply foot pressure to the pedal due to the extreme heel and angle of the foot and ankle in such shoes. Long-laced shoes can present hazards, too. And shoes with slippery soles can be a nightmare to drive in, as well.

It’s best to wear a closed-toe-designed shoe that allows ample foot flexibility. Short or no laces mean little to no risk of getting hung up on the pedals either. Wear footwear that has very marginal or no heel at all. Remember, those thick wedges or soles could have you misapplying pressure. Avoid the slick-soled shoes, too.

While you can technically drive barefoot, it’s probably best to just keep a safe pair of driving shoes in the car instead. That way, you can still wear whatever shoes you please but change into safe footwear for your drive. As comfortable as barefoot driving might be, it’s still significantly risky. So, pack some comfortable driving shoes before you head out, even if it’s just a quick jaunt down the street. It may not be illegal to go barefoot behind the wheel, but it is less safe.

RELATED: You Should Never Break These Unwritten Driving Rules