Is Driving in Heels Safe?


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Is driving in heels safe in Australia? Also, is it illegal to drive in heels? While loads of us have got into the driver’s seat with a pair of heels on and driven with no problems, it’s not recommended. But there’s more to it than that.

Before you protest that you drive with heels on all the time with no issues, read on to find out why exactly it could be a dangerous mistake. In this article PD Insurance answers whether it’s safe (or legal) to wear your wedges, slingbacks, stilettos and more when you’re at the wheel.

Is driving in heels dangerous?

Before we answer whether it’s illegal to drive in heels, a good question to ask is whether it’s safe.

Driving footwear is, to a large degree, a personal choice. Many people make their daily commutes to and from the office or a night out in heels, while others might drive only in sneakers or ballet flats. Maybe you prefer driving barefoot!

Some choices of footwear are definitely safer than others. Driving in high heels can be dangerous for a variety of reasons. Most safety experts recommend driving in flat shoes, telling drivers to avoid heels – as well as slippery thongs and bare feet – because of safety concerns.

A woman changes out of heels to ensure a safer driving experience

Potential problems caused by driving in heels

When it comes to heels and wheels, the old saying “one must suffer to be beautiful” needs a bit of tweaking. While we’re not saying lose the shoes, there are safe alternatives. Because we don’t want to lose anything more precious (drivers, passengers, pedestrians etc) in a car incident either.

Several things can easily go wrong – and quickly! – when driving with heels. Let’s take a look at three of these so you can consider the risk and potential suffering it could cause.

#1 Stepping on the wrong pedal or missing the pedal entirely

On a flat shoe, there’s little to no gap between the bottom of your foot and the pedal. When you drive with heels on, the resting point comprises a big gap between the heel and ball of the shoe.

This means you can sometimes lose accuracy when you press a pedal or switch between them.

If you accidentally tap the accelerator instead of the brakes, you could cause a serious accident. If you brake instead of accelerating, or you miss the pedal completely, you could cause a bumper bashing just as easily.

#2 Shoe getting stuck on the carpet or pedal

Because of the design of heels (stiletto, kitten, court, etc), it’s possible to get them stuck underneath the mat by your feet. They can also catch on or in between the pedals themselves or, in the worst-case scenario, get wedged underneath the pedals.

This situation can be highly dangerous, as it limits the driver’s ability to react quickly. You might get your foot stuck on the accelerator at a red light.

Imagine if you needed to brake in an emergency and your heel was wedged underneath the pedal. It could be disastrous.

A woman in heels packs unpacks the trunk of her car

#3 Applying the wrong pressure to the pedal

Driving requires precise foot movements – not just some of the time but all the time. It’s easy to lose precision control (or control altogether) during acceleration, braking and manoeuvring between and on and off pedals when you’re driving with heels.

High, narrow heels, and any heels really, can compromise both your comfort and level of control over the vehicle. But then again so can slingbacks since they can partly slip off your foot while you’re driving.

In a normal pair of flat shoes, when your foot isn’t on the pedal you rest the heel of your sole on the floor or a footrest (technically called a dead pedal). When wearing high heels, your actual heel is elevated and doesn’t rest on the floor.

This means when it’s time to press the pedals it’s much harder to accurately judge how much pressure you’re applying. Jolting stops and too-quick acceleration might be harmless most of the time, but even if you don’t cause an accident it’s not a great way to drive.

Driving safely only most of the time also means opening yourself up to having that accident that one time. Even just one accident might not be worth it. Donning those flats while you’re driving and switching shoes at your destination could make a huge difference.

Jolting stops and too-quick acceleration also mean greater fuel consumption. Smooth driving is one of the many ways you can save money on car running costs. Let alone save yourself from getting into a car accident.
driving in heels in Australia like this woman is about to do isn't technically illegal but it's also not safe

Is it illegal to drive in heels in Australia?

No, there are no laws preventing you from driving in heels. In terms of legislation, you would also be allowed to drive barefoot. That said, the Australian Road Rules do state the driver must take precautions to drive safely and be able to maintain control of the vehicle.

If your footwear were to impact your ability to drive safely, you could very well be breaking the law. The same would be true if your choice of driving footwear diminished your control of the vehicle. In some cases, investigations into the cause of a crash or incident might take place.

If your footwear was found to have played a role in causing a crash, there might be repercussions both legally and in terms of your car insurance.

What exactly is a criminal offence? Some Australians weighed in on the driving footwear debate to say that driving in Crocs should be – or wearing Crocs anywhere in public, for that matter!

Is it better to drive barefoot?

If you think driving barefoot is a better solution than driving in heels then think again. Your bare feet are more likely to slip off the pedals than if you wear, say, grippy sneakers. And if you suffer from sweaty feet (perish the thought) then the risk increases further.

Avoid the temptation to drive barefoot and decrease your chances of causing a car accident. Speaking of avoiding accidents, you might also want to take the time to read our article on five defensive driving skills you need to know…

even though it's not illegal to drive in heels this person is opting to wear blue and white sneakers with good grip before getting into their matching blue car in the background

Driving shoes

Now you know it’s not illegal to drive in heels but that it’s rather unsafe, consider how to mitigate the risks.

Simply bring a shoe bag or box along to keep your silky stilettos clean and fresh for when you arrive. Drive in comfy shoes that you can quickly change out of when you arrive safely at your destination.

Since driving means sharing the road with many other road users, it’s totally worth the effort of quickly switching shoes.

BTW, did you know you can even get shoes designed for driving? Now that tells you something about safety, shoes and getting behind the wheel.

Make driving less stressful with car insurance

The verdict? Best to eliminate some of the worries of driving by staying away from the heels… and getting comprehensive car insurance. Then if have a bingle you’ll be back on the road quickly, without a big dent in your purse.

Having car insurance offers peace of mind, knowing you’re protected against unexpected situations such as theft, vandalism, or natural disasters. This helps you drive and park with confidence and style.

When you buy a policy from PD Insurance, you’ll benefit from cost-effective, award winning car insurance that doesn’t compromise on value. Click below to get a quote today.

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