shot of woman's feet hanging out of window of car at the beach

Is it Dangerous To Drive Barefoot?


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Aussies love being barefoot, especially in summer. It’s almost a unique part of our culture. And if no shoes are required on the beach, in the park, or even in shopping centres, why would they be required in cars? If you’ve ever had to drive barefoot, you might have wondered if it’s dangerous or even illegal in Australia.

The short answer is that yes, it can be dangerous. For both you and other drivers. As always, we recommend sensible, flat, fitted shoes to drive in. Here’s why…

Is driving without shoes illegal in Australia?

OK, it isn’t illegal to drive barefoot. Much like eating while driving or driving in heels, there are no specific laws saying you can’t do it. There also aren’t specific laws saying you shouldn’t do makeup while driving, though it’s clear this is unsafe and could be a hazard to everyone on the road.

Even though it isn’t illegal to drive barefoot, it doesn’t mean you can do it with reckless abandon. There is provision for police officers to fine you if they believe you’re not in full control of your car as a result of your lack of shoes.

This is quite subjective, so it’s probably safer to wear sensible shoes when you’re behind the wheel. Just in case!

You should also be careful about the condition of your car when driving, in ways you may not think of. Read our ‘Is It Illegal to Drive with a Dirty Number Plate‘ article and our ‘Your Car Windscreen and Road Safety‘.

close up of car pedals with man wearing white sneakers. Driving barefoot can be dangerous and closed shoes are the best option

Surely it’s not dangerous to drive barefoot?

Really, it depends on who you ask.

Better than heels or thongs?

One thing we can say is that driving barefoot seems to be less dangerous than driving in flip flops. Thongs or other shoes that flap around can easily get stuck under the pedal and cause you to stall or struggle to properly apply the brakes. Heels can also be a problem as it’s difficult for you to press your toes down normally.

So if you’re in heels or thongs, it’s probably safer to drive barefoot than in those shoes. That said, it’s best to keep a pair of sneakers or other sturdy shoes in your car for driving. They are the safest option.

Take precautions when you drive barefoot

Some people do prefer to drive barefoot even if they have the option of regular shoes. If that’s you, make absolutely sure you take sensible precautions. If you’re coming from the beach or the pool, for instance, make sure you dry your feet before you drive. And whatever the situation, be sure you have solid grip of the pedals.

If you have a car with metal pedals instead of the rubber finish, be wary. During summer your car can get extremely hot (which is why you should never leave kids or pets in hot cars) very quickly. Just like how the seatbelt buckle can get super hot in the sun, so can the pedals. You could burn or scald your feet when you drive barefoot if your car has these.

As the heat hits, brush up on more driving risks to be aware of in summer. You might also want to read our tips for summer car maintenance.

the man with these two bare feet in front of a Christmas tree considers whether to drive barefoot

Final advice

Our final advice on being a barefoot driver? Flat, fitted shoes are the safest option.

If you drive barefoot, you won’t get as much contact with the pedals as you do with well fitted shoes. Plus, there’s a chance you won’t be able to use the pedals as quickly, which means you could have an increased stopping distance. Don’t risk the slip.

What about car insurance?

Though most comprehensive car insurance providers don’t have specific policies around barefoot driving, you’ll want to check your PDS to be sure. If you don’t know, contact your insurer to ask their view on driving barefoot.

And remember, if driving without shoes is thought to be the cause of an accident, you could still run into issues with claims. Even if it’s not technically illegal in Australia.

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