Maybe you spend your afternoon digging your toes into the sand on a San Diego beach. Or, maybe you have an interview and feel obligated to wear high heeled shoes. Perhaps your feet are killing you after standing all day at work. In any of these situations, the last thing you probably want to do is wear shoes on your drive home. Do you have to? Is it legal to drive barefoot in California?
California Doesn’t Require Drivers to Wear Shoes
You may have heard that it’s illegal to drive without footwear. However, this isn’t actually the case. There are no state or federal laws on the books that explicitly outlaw driving without shoes. This includes California, where all drivers are free to choose whether or not to put their shoes on before hitting the road.
Is it Safer to Drive Without Flip Flops or High Heels?
California, like other states, does have laws that limit what drivers can and cannot do behind the wheel. These laws generally prohibit behaviors that are dangerous or inherently unsafe. So, why doesn’t California ban driving without shoes? Many believe that it may actually be safer to ditch some footwear – especially flip flops and high heels – before driving.
Drivers often choose to drive without shoes because:
- Flip flops can potentially slip off the foot and get lodged beneath the gas and/or brake pedals
- High heels and other shoes may reduce the ability to maneuver the foot from pedal to pedal quickly, and
- They feel a greater sense of control of the vehicle while using a bare foot.
Liability For Accidents While Driving Without Shoes
Just because driving barefoot isn’t against the law doesn’t mean that you won’t be liable if you’re involved in an accident. If it’s revealed that driving barefoot wasn’t the safest choice or contributed to the accident in some way, you can be on the hook for any resulting damages. In fact, not wearing shoes could even be considered negligent or reckless behavior.
Let’s say that you’re in an accident while leaving the beach. You decided to throw your flip flops in the back seat and drive barefoot. The accident happened, in part, because your bare foot slipped as you tried to move it from the gas to the brake pedal. It could be argued that had you been wearing shoes, you may have had the traction necessary to move your foot safely from one pedal to another.
You owe others on the road a duty of care. You have to drive safely and make choices that reduce the risk of causing harm. Whether or not you wear shoes while driving is up to you. It’s not explicitly against the law. However, you can still be responsible for an accident if not wearing shoes contributes to a crash.
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San Diego, CA 92101