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Is It Illegal to Drive Barefoot In Your State?

Every driver has considered driving barefoot behind the wheel. The temptation is greatest after a long workday when a driver wants to slip out of an uncomfortable pair of shoes or they simply want to explore the freedom of driving barefooted.

Your driver's ed teacher or parents may have warned you that it is illegal to drive barefoot. They may claim you could risk getting a ticket, a fine or having your license revoked. But it's not illegal to drive barefoot in any state. Let us separate fact from fiction.

Is it Illegal To Drive Barefoot?

Is driving barefoot illegal in any state? The answer is no. Currently, there are no states where barefoot driving is against the law. There may be some cities with local laws that prohibit it because many areas discourage barefoot driving because they consider it an unsafe practice.

Currently, there are no states where barefoot driving is against the law.

Most Americans wonder if driving barefoot in any state is illegal. Many governments have given their stance on barefoot driving. Here is a snapshot of the stance different states have taken on the subject.

State

Policies or recommendations

Alabama

You can drive a vehicle barefoot but must wear footwear if you're a motorcycle riders.

Arizona, Arkansas, California, Nevada

It is not illegal to drive barefoot but if charged with reckless driving or civil infractions, driving barefoot may be defined as a contributing factor.

Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, Ohio, Wyoming

It's not illegal to drive barefoot but it is considered unsafe in these states.

Michigan

Certain footwear is considered more dangerous than driving barefoot.

Tennessee

Local regulations may prohibit driving barefoot, but it's not illegal in the state in general.

Virginia

Barefoot driving is discouraged but not illegal. Residents are encouraged to wear safe footwear without an open heel.

Wisconsin

It is not illegal to drive barefoot and it is preferable to wearing heels or other shoes that may pose a risk.

Why Do People Believe it's Illegal To Drive Barefoot?

No one knows where this myth originated, although there is some speculation about how it started.

Urban legends involve a rebellious teen driver who breaks the rules to drive barefoot. Inevitably, the young person's foot slips from the pedal. The driver loses control of the vehicle and causes a terrible collision. In the end, the teen totals the car and suffers broken bones, internal injuries or amputations. As a result, people believe that states passed laws to prevent this practice.

Another reason that people believe that driving barefoot is illegal is due to the Illusory Truth effect (also known as the Illusion of Truth effect). This phenomenon occurs when individuals believe false information that's constantly repeated. A 1977 Villanova University and Temple University study first identified this bias.

People believe wrong information because it seems true, feels familiar or aligns with their values.

These biases lead some people to believe these false stories, even if there is zero proof to support them.

A second reason why people may believe there are laws against barefoot driving is because of a common fallacy belief (Argumentum ad Populum). It means appealing to the people. Individuals erroneously believe a proposition is true because a majority of people think it is true.

For instance, some people believe that since most drivers wear shoes while operating a vehicle, then it is required by state law. They may also assume that there are regulations that forbid barefoot driving. This assumption, however, is false.

Another reason people assume it's illegal is that many states and police departments discourage this practice. Unfortunately, just because a government considers barefoot driving as unsafe, it doesn't mean legislators will pass a law preventing it or that you'll be punished for it.

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Is Driving Barefoot a Potential Safety Risk?

Driving barefoot can increase your chances of an accident on the road. There are five dangers associated with this practice. They include the following hazards.

  • Bare feet can slip off of pedals easier than shoes, especially when wet.
  • You can't apply enough braking force when you are barefooted compared to shoe wearers.
  • If you get into an accident while driving barefoot, the police may consider charging you with distracted or careless driving.
  • In the event of an accident, you can suffer significant injuries to your legs or feet if you have an accident while driving barefoot.
  • Driving barefoot could also prevent you from fleeing your vehicle or seeking safety.

Are Some Shoes More Dangerous than Driving Barefoot?

Yes, some shoes are far more dangerous than barefoot driving. These styles could increase your risk of an accident. They can jam your acceleration or stop you from braking.

Some shoes are far more dangerous than barefoot driving and increase your risk of an accident.

Unsafe shoe styles include:

  • Flip-flops and sandals – Although these shoes are comfortable, driving in flip-flops or sandals aren't the best choices for operating a vehicle. When they don't fit securely on your feet, they can slip off and get caught under your accelerator or brake pedal. It can make your vehicle inoperable and cause a terrible accident.
  • Wedge or high-heeled shoes – Wearing high-heels or elevated heels can interfere with a person's reaction time. This shoe style inhibits the foot's natural movement. It prevents drivers from safely operating cars.
  • Shoes with long laces – These shoes are dangerous, even when they are securely tied. Longer laces can unravel and become entangled in your car's pedals. It may prevent you from operating your vehicle.
  • Open-toed shoes – This footwear has similar associated risks to flip-flops. These shoes can slip off if they don't fit your feet. They can wedge under your pedal, causing you to have an accident.
  • Dress shoes - Designers use leather soles to help these stylish shoes to last longer. Unfortunately, these soles are more likely to slip from a brake pedal.
  • Slip-on and open-heel shoes – Mules, slippers, clogs and backless shoes can present a significant driving risk. These shoes can slip off and make driving more difficult.
  • Boots or shoes with thick soles – These shoes inhibit the natural movement of your foot. As a result, they slow down your reaction time and ability to prevent an accident.

Motorcycle Laws and Barefoot Driving

Most states don't prevent motorcycle riders from driving barefoot either, even though these people are exposed to more hazards, such as injuries from debris. Alabama is the only state that requires motorcyclists to wear shoes.

Most states don't prevent motorcycle riders from driving barefoot.

Alabama's Code Title 32, Motor Vehicles and Traffic § 32-5A-245 states: "No person shall operate or ride upon a motorcycle or motor-driven cycle unless he is wearing shoes."

Are You Insured If You Drive Barefoot?

As long as you have a valid insurance policy you should still be covered you since it's not illegal to drive while barefoot. However, you could be found at fault if law enforcement finds that your barefoot driving was a contributing factor that caused the accident. This may affect your claim or one filed against you.

If you're found responsible, your coverage would pay for the other driver's bills. You'd have to pay for your own damage or medical bills out of pocket unless you had collision, comprehensive or MedPay coverages.

Barefooted Driver or Not, Get the Most Affordable Car Insurance Coverage

Although many people believe it's illegal to drive while barefoot, no state laws forbid this practice. You can operate a vehicle without shoes, but it's still an unsafe practice. Many police departments and state DMVs recommend against it. Some shoe styles, such as high heels or dress shoes, also make driving more dangerous.

The good thing is you'll still be insured if you have an accident while driving barefoot, as long as you're not found to be at fault. If you need a better insurance policy that fits your budget, you can shop for one using SmartFinancial's free insurance comparison engine.

SmartFinancial can help you save up to 40 percent on your car insurance coverage. Just enter your zip code below and answer a few questions to get the best rate.

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