Shoes and Driving

I don’t know if this is true for every state, but in IL a driver must wear shoes. Why is this? I can’t see how not wearing shoes is dangerous. I fact I can think of more ways wearing shoes would be more dangerous (shoe lace gets caught, shoe comes partially off). What is the history of this law and why do we have it?

A law that doesn’t make sense? No!

How laws are pushed through state legislators explains alot:

Someone has an idea…often based on nothing…they provide little or no supporting evidence…it sounds like a good idea to some crusty old men…they pass it because denying it could have a bad spin…

Do you have a cite for that?

Please note that I’m not disagreeing with you, I’m just not willing to take that statement at face value. I’ve heard of plenty of laws like that that had about as much basis in fact as the “Jerry Mathers died in Nam” story.

I can confirm that it’s law here in Massachusetts as well. I remember when I got sent to a driver’s education class because I had gotten so many tickets and violations and such, and I asked the question of the instructor. He said, yes, it was law, and the reason behind it was for the added traction of the sole of a shoe. I had assumed that all these people who’d said it was illegal were under the thrall of an urban legend, and driving barefoot was A-OK. I still kind of think it’s okay, even if not according to the courts. I mean, I can understand that good footwear can provide extra grip, but a well-worn sole might be lots more slippery than a naked foot, right?

Can only offer ancedotal support but I was told when I was an EMT that hard braking and such could cause foot injuries by cuts on a sharp edge of a metal brake pedal. Trying to brake then releasing the brake because of a small but painful cut or poke would be a real easy way to get in an accident.

You can exert far more pressure to a small brake pedal with a good shoe than with your bare foot just from distribution of force on the bottom of your foot.

I’ll second the claim, at least-when I took driver’s ed in IL (in 1985), I & the rest of my class were advised of that by the instructor. So it it’s a rumor, it’s pretty widespread …

This site might shed some light.

This was almost 1 year anniversary post to this one.

But moommm the hamsters are so slooooww…

Thanks, Khadaji.

Funny I was told by the police it was illegal to drive barefoot in IL.

According to, driving barefoot is legal in nearly all states (the information is from 1974, but I doubt it’s changed).

The rundown:

The link includes letters from the various DMV’s citing the law.

Oops – correction: the data is from 1994, not 1974.

If you have received a traffic citation for DWU (Driving While Unshod), the pertinent section of the vehicle code will be noted. Otherwise, you can ask the cops again and ask them for the section of the vehicle code that prohibits barefoot driving.

I read about this somewhere a couple months ago, but I can’t remember where. Some people like to drive with bare feet so they can feel the response of the vehicle better. It’s an old trick among people who are obsessed with maximizing their fuel efficiency.

I had always heard that it was illegal, but then no one could cite a statute to that effect, so it is apparently an urban legend. I have often driven barefoot (or with flip-flops) and while the latter may not be a good idea, the fomer seems to really give good control. I think this “prohibition” is basically an urban legend, but if the cops believe it, you could be in a for a lot of trouble should they decide to get nasty. Especially out-of-state in a place like South Carolina that has fining mills.

Have any of you ever driven with bare feet? It’s actually pretty scary. Some of it could be chalked up to being used to driving with shoes, but it is just downright easier to drive with shoes.

Ever had to stop suddenly and just barely caught the edge of the brake pedal with the side of your shoe? Think what would have happened if you weren’t wearing shoes. :eek:

Chriszarate makes a good point. While it may not be illegal, in my experience its more dangerous (and not as easy) to drive barefoot. The shoes gives your foot a firmer and broader surface against the pedals. This is especially true here in the UK where most cars have a clutch pedal which requires more precision control than the brake or gas pedals.

I sit in my car with my feet out, take off my shoes, and put them in a plastic bag. Then I drive. Don’t want to get my new floor mats all dirty. :smiley:
Not really, but I’ve thought about it.

Actually I’d chalk it up entirely to being used to driving with shoes. It’s similar to saying that it’s downright easier to use your own set of golf clubs, or drive your own car - yes, but… it’s due to the fact that you’re used to your own, not due to any deficiency in the replacment (or alternate method of doing things).

I’ve just measured the widest part of my shoe and the same part of my foot; 4.5" and 4.25" respectivley. That’s 1/8" or 3% wider on either edge. If I had smaller feet and wore a different sized shoe -as thousands of people do- I’d miss the brake pedal regardless of what I had on my feet, so it’s next to redundant.

I’ve driven standard and automatic transmissions both with shoes and without, and if you’re used to driving barefoot shoes give you zero advantage. Most people simply have, pardon the expression, “sissy feet”. If you can’t walk down a gravel driveway or alley barefoot without wincing in pain and hobbling, you fit into that category (sorry).

I’ve never felt any pain from having to jam on a pedal barefoot, but I actually have on 2 separate occasions unknowingly stepped on a) a nail, and b) a jagged shard of metal with my shoe where it went through the sole but not into my foot. When I put enough pressure on that spot, it then poked through and got me. I can also apply the same amount of pressure with my foot with socks on as with a peice of flexible rubber strapped to my foot; the pressure is produced by your leg, not your skin. So in my personal experience it’s actually never that you can’t step on a pedal due to something pointy down there, and when it is -for me- it was much more likely to have had something lodged in my shoe sole, but the likelyhood of either causing an accident is pathetically small… now sun in the eyes, fiddling with the radio, speeding, or not watching the road for instance causing accidents… :smiley:

Driving sans shoes will give you a better feel for what’s happening with the pedals, and the potential for more control once you’re used to it. I’ve found that simply switching shoes and then driving can show you that really well. My sandals are foam rubber, and much squishier than my steel toed workboots, and my runners are much lighter and more nimble than my heavy winter boots… my gum boots actually are dangerous to drive with, because the top edge is just the right height to catch on the bottom of my seat and jam my foot in place when I try to pick up a leg slightly to switch pedals - so I don’t drive with them at all anymore. On the other hand my bare feet always feel the same.

I actually only drive barefoot a couple times a year, so I am wearing shoes 99% of the time, which is just fine. Lastly, I’ve heard the illegality of this topic many times, and everytime it has proven to be fantasy in these parts. Not sure why people spread this particular UL like they do.

I can’t stand driving with my nice dress shoes on (I wear them with a suit). The soles are a smooth leather and the traction is horrendous. I’d rather drive barefoot than with those shoes on.