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Is Driving Barefoot Legal or Illegal in California?

Updated on September 21, 2017
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Barefoot Braking

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Illegal, Or Legal?

As a driving instructor in California I was surprised how often my students posed this question.

There's no law that says you can't, and there's no law that says you can. To put it simply, yes, you can drive barefoot if you are driving safely in that manner.


I Drive Barefoot

Personally, I drive barefoot whenever I can get my shoe off. I can determine where my foot is on the pedal much better barefoot.

I don't recommend wearing flip-flops while driving. The flip-flop sole can get caught under either pedal. I've had my flip-flop catch under the brake pedal twice in my driving career, and that was enough for me.

Flip-Flop Caught Under Accelerator Peedal

Pedals Are Staggered

Have you ever noticed that the accelerator pedal and the brake pedal are set-up in a staggered formation in most cars, well, all the cars I've ever driven have this staggered formation.

The staggered pedals is not conducive with wearing flip-flops at all! If you find yourself in a situation where you need to suddenly hit the brakes, and your wearing flip-flops, the sole of the flip-flop will get caught under the brake pedal! Partly due to the movement of your foot being faster than the sole of the flip-flop moves, and part due to the staggered formation of the accelerator to the brake pedal. Check out the photo below. This is a photo from a Ford Explorer. The distance from the accelerator up to the brake pedal is a huge 8 inches! This is a popular vehicle, and to think every driver has this 8 inch expanse they must cover to go from accelerating to braking, and some of those people may be wearing flip-flops?! This is concerning for me.

Pedal Height

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Driving With Boots

Well, if driving with flip-flops on doesn't concern you, then think about this: Wearing a work boot to drive is just as dicey as wearing flip-flops to drive.

You know those heavy work boots men usually wear for work, the ones. Some of them have a steel toe as well. These boots are constructed with the intention of making your foot impervious to outside stimulus. This is great, if your walking around at work, but not so great for driving a car. The accelerator pedal, and the brake pedal are both outside stimulus!

When you're wearing boots and trying to drive, exactly where your foot is on the accelerator, or brake, is all a guessing game. The boot wearer cannot feel the pedals! The driver is guess-timating where his/her foot is on these pedals. Don't get me wrong, I wear boots myself sometimes, but when I get in the car, they go into the back seat. I don't want to be guessing whether I'm on the brake, or not, I want to know for sure.

It Is Really Up To You

There are some situations where going barefoot would just be plain silly. For example, riding a motorcycle. There's no law about going barefoot driving a motorcycle either. But common sense should tell you that would be the worst stubbed toe of your lifetime if your toe hit the pavement by accident.

If you fell comfortable wearing shoes, boots or flip-flops when you are driving, then that is the way you should drive. But, if you feel you want to take them off, go right ahead, because it's really up to you. Just as long as you are driving in a safe manner.

What About You?

Which method do you prefer to drive?

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  • Msmillar profile image
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    Joanna 4 weeks ago from Valley Springs

    Thank you WheelScene! I'm surprised there isn't anything written about it in California laws. You must wear a helmet, but you can ride barefoot. Kinda funny if ya think about it. Happy Hubbing!

  • WheelScene profile image

    WheelScene 4 weeks ago from U.S.A.

    Interesting read! Thanks for sharing, I know many countries, states etc. have banned barefoot driving but many people say it helps them with engine and transmission feel especially in a manual car!