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Is It Illegal to Drive Barefoot? You’ll Be Surprised!

Is It Illegal to Drive Barefoot? You’ll Be Surprised!

Is it illegal to drive barefoot? You may have learned the answer to this question in a driver’s ed class, but many people didn’t.

Just like knowing how to adjust your RV mirrors, whether or not you need a special Class A RV license, and how to drive an RV in general, your choice of footwear while driving can be a safety matter.

So, today’s post takes a look at the question “Is driving barefoot illegal?” and answers it once and for all!

What Does Barefoot Driving Mean?

First, let’s talk about what “barefoot driving” is so that we’re totally clear. While it may seem obvious, barefoot driving refers to driving a vehicle when you’re not wearing any type of footwear, including socks.

By “barefoot” we mean completely uncovered feet, which means you’re stepping directly on the brake and gas pedal/accelerator with the bare skin on the sole of your foot.

Is It Illegal to Drive Barefoot?

While you may have heard it said that driving barefoot is illegal, that’s actually not the case. No federal, provincial, or state law says you must wear any type of footwear when driving.

Contrary to popular myth, no law in the United States, Canada, or any state or province prohibits driving without shoes on. It’s literally an urban myth that just won’t die.

With that said, wearing shoes or some other type of footwear may be a good idea while driving. Or it may be a really bad idea. Depending on your comfort and experience level, your choice of footwear can make a difference in terms of safety.

For example, driving while wearing flip-flops or high heels can be less safe than going barefoot, or just wearing socks. It’s all about the ability to control your vehicle safely. Anything that increases your control is a better choice… at least a better choice than something that might actually decrease your control.

Flip flops and high heels shown as poor choices of driving footwear

If you want to enhance your ability to control your vehicle safely, flip-flops and high heels aren’t great choices.

Still, while certain types of footwear, or wearing no footwear, might be considered a benefit or hindrance to safe driving, no law (including distracted driving laws) says a driver must wear footwear while operating a motor vehicle.

This is true in Canada as well as in the United States. No Canadian law says you can’t drive a car or even a motorcycle barefoot, nor is there any law governing the type of footwear you wear while driving. However, if you get into an accident and it’s deemed that your footwear or lack of footwear is a causal factor, you could be charged with careless driving.

While there aren’t specific laws forbidding driving barefoot, some laws and regulations govern the use of particular footwear while driving in other ways.

For example, in the following states in the U.S., you’re not only allowed to drive with bare feet, but drivers are even encouraged to drive barefoot instead of wearing flip-flops or high heels. That is, unless your feet are wet or covered in sand, which could cause a loss of control of the pedals.

  • Michigan
  • North Carolina
  • Minnesota
  • Wisconsin

You can operate a vehicle without footwear in the following states, meaning it’s not against the law. But should you be involved in an accident and your footwear or lack thereof is found to have contributed, you could be charged with negligent driving.

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • Texas

In certain municipalities in Indiana and Tennessee, local ordinances may allow you to be charged with reckless driving if officers/investigators believe that barefoot driving contributed to an accident.

In Arkansas, drivers are allowed to drive barefoot, but it’s possible that you could still be cited for reckless driving based on the discretion of authorities.

And here’s a strange one: In Virginia, you can drive barefoot but to avoid being fined you’re encouraged to wear close-toed shoes. 🤔

Can Driving Barefoot Affect My Car Insurance?

This question is different than whether it’s illegal to drive barefoot. Although driving without shoes isn’t generally against the law, what happens from an insurance standpoint if you’re involved in an accident while driving without shoes?

If you have a car accident while driving barefoot and the accident causes personal injury to another person, it’s possible that authorities and your auto insurance company could consider your barefoot driving as having been a safety hazard… or even reckless driving… that contributed to the occurrence of the accident. This is another reason why wearing reasonable footwear when driving might be best for most drivers.

If you don’t like wearing confining shoes when you’re driving, particularly if you want to be comfortable driving long distances, some people choose to wear slippers or another comfortable form of footwear. Well-fitting slippers that cover the entire foot (including the heel) with non-skid soles are our first choice.) They stay on and have a good grip on the pedals.

What’s important is choosing footwear that doesn’t slip or get caught on or under the accelerator or brake pedals. If you’re not comfortable wearing only socks, there are “driving socks” that give you extra traction on the pedals while also being lightweight and comfortable.

SKASO Sock Shoes Barefoot Slip on Minimalist Shoes for Women Comfortable Lightweight for Driving Fishing Kayaking Dark Blue Women Size 5-6
  • Stretchable Fabric Uppers: This walking shoes have wear-resistant knit upper with good stretch allows the foot to fit perfect, smooth fabric provide...
  • Lightweight and Portable: The shoes are light enough that you can put them in your bag or the trunk of your car when you're driving out camping, and...

Otherwise, lightweight sneakers or form-fitting slippers with grippy soles might be your best bet for safe and comfortable driving.

Minnetonka Men's Original Cowhide Driving Moccasin,Brown Ruff,9.5 M US
  • TIMELESS STYLE: Minnetonka boasts a rich heritage that includes a tradition of careful craftsmanship since 1946, delivering excellent quality footwear...
  • COZY SHOE FIT: The men's leather drivers are made to stretch to the contours of your feet and wear pattern over time, ensuring that each pair of...
Minnetonka Women's Classic Driving Moccasin,Dark Brown Lariat,8 M US
  • Smooth leather or brown ruff leather
  • Cushion leather insole

Many myths have been repeated for so long that people come to believe them as truth. “It’s illegal to drive barefoot” is one of them.

Is it illegal to drive barefoot? No. However, we’re huge proponents of safety first and safety always, especially while driving. So, while driving barefoot isn’t illegal, it may not be the safest choice for some drivers, particularly new ones.

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Sunday 10th of September 2023

Lived in Hawaii 20 years. Drove Barefoot ALL THE TIME! Aloha!

Gay Travel Enthusiast (Jason)

Sunday 10th of September 2023

@R.Lopaka, Whereabouts in Hawaii? Which island?

Jeff McSpadden

Sunday 10th of September 2023

There are some other issues about driving barefoot. A couple years ago we ( me, my wife and dog ) were in a horrific head-on crash which rolled out Pick up truck three times. A Young lady crossed a double yellow line and hit us just in front of the DS wheel. She hit us so hard her frame rail pierced our firewall and slammed into my left foot. When you see you're about to get creamed, you tense up. the impact broke a few bones in my left foot. Had I been barefoot, it could have been far worse. The shoes kept my foot from swelling up and kept 'things' in place, and Im sure my shoes kept my foot from being shredded. So do what you want, but Im wearing BOOTS from now on. Tally-Ho, seeya down the road


Sunday 10th of September 2023

So sorry to hear about your accident, Jeff. We totally understand your inclination to wear boots now! We figure that there are other things we could do to improve our safety and survivability in an accident (helmets… Nomex suits!LOL) but heavy boots could have a potential downside as well, as it might be more likely to have difficulty finding the brake in a panic situation. We like the idea of a compromise, with lightweight shoes providing good pedal feel, while at the same time providing some protection. Thanks for sharing your experience.

Jeff McSpadden

Sunday 10th of September 2023

@Jeff McSpadden, BTW, no one died in the crash. My wife broke her wrist, the dog was ejected somehow and onlt sprained a paw. The other driver was completely unscathed. not a scratch

Gay Travel Enthusiast (Jason)

Sunday 10th of September 2023

Hey guys. Another great article. Although I've never driven barefoot (without shoes), it's nice to know one could without getting in trouble with the law. I either wear sandals, shoes, Crocs, etc., but never barefoot.

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