Is it illegal to ride in flip flops or barefoot?

A girl drives her car and wears flip flops

People often wonder if riding in flip flops is legal or illegal (Image: Getty Images)

Although the Brits have enjoyed soaking that up sunshine after several long and dreary months, many are already struggling to cool down as temperatures rise.

And with beach days, picnics, and days at parks and beach resorts ahead of us, you probably want to wear floaty ensembles and sandals — now that you’ve carefully tucked your fleece-lined boots back into your closet.

However, if you’re likely to be the designated driver this summer, you might be wondering if you need to bring a pair of closed-toe shoes when behind the wheel.

So read on to find out if riding in flip-flops is actually illegal — and what other shoe rules you need to be aware of.

Is it illegal to ride in flip flops or barefoot?

While it’s not technically illegal to ride in flip-flops, socks, or barefoot, it’s not recommended and can be dangerous.

They could also be subject to a fine and penalty points.

Close-up of female foot in white sneakers on accelerator pedal of electric vehicle

Sneakers and closed-toe shoes are a much more sensible choice for driving (Image: Alexander Shapovalov via Getty Images)

Rule 97 of The Highway Code states that you should ensure that: “Clothes and shoes do not prevent you from using the controls in the correct way.”

And riding without proper footwear that grips and wraps your feet could prevent you from using the pedals “properly”.

The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) has advised that you could endanger yourself and others if your feet get wet if you drive barefoot, in socks or flip flops.

The DSA said: “Shoes that fit are especially important behind the wheel.

“We wouldn’t recommend riding barefoot because you don’t have the same braking power barefoot as with shoes.”

If you are pulled over for erratic or dangerous driving, you could be charged with careless and careless driving. The maximum penalty for doing so is a fine of £5,000, up to nine points on your driving license or even a driving ban.

Policeman drives car

While it’s not illegal to drive in flip-flops, it could get you a hefty fine (Image: South_agency via Getty Images)

Even less serious cases can warrant a fine of £100 and three points.

The time it would take to put on a pair of socks and shoes is a lot less of a hassle than all of that.

What shoes should you ride in?

That The RAC website provides the following guidelines for appropriate footwear for driving, where shoes should say:

  • Have a sole no thicker than 10mm, but the sole should not be too thin or too soft
  • Provide enough support to prevent your foot from slipping off the pedals
  • Don’t be too heavy
  • Do not restrict ankle movement
  • Be tight enough to avoid accidentally pressing two pedals at once

This categorizes some types of shoes (like high heels and flip flops) as unsuitable for driving.

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Justin Scacco

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