Did you know driving barefoot is not illegal in SA? 4 factors to consider about driving shoes

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Woman stands besides her car.
Woman stands besides her car.
Caique Nascimento/Unsplash

We all want to look gorgeous, but when driving wearing high heels could compromise your safety.

According to a survey conducted by the United Kingdom insurance price comparison website, www.confused.com, about 80 percent of women drivers wear unsafe shoe and 40 percent say they wear high heels while 39 percent opt for wedges, platform heels and other unsuitable footwear.

Some countries have legislation for appropriate shoes to wear when driving. In some countries, high heels are banned and in others, there’s a limit on the height of the heel.

Although there are no laws, in South Africa, that prohibit people from driving in heels, it’s the driver’s responsibility to ensure that their footwear gives them full control over the car.

Here is what to remember with heels:

1. Braking ability

Vuyi Mpofu, of the Driving in Heels show on DStv, says the height of your heels determines the position and angle of your foot on pedals.

“High heels limit how far your foot can go to the ground. The heel of your foot needs to be on the floor when pressing the pedals. Stilettos tend to move your body forward, forcing you to control the pedals with just your toes. They also prevent you from extending your foot close enough to the ground in order to operate the pedals,” she says.

Did you know?

Driving barefoot is not illegal in South Africa. In fact, some people find it comfortable. Theron says that, although it’s better to drive barefoot than in high heels, it’s highly recommended that you keep a pair of comfy shoes in your car. “If you have problems with sweating, then your feet could slip off the pedals,” Theron warns. Socks or stockings may also reduce your feet’s grip on the pedals.

2. Sitting position

Mpofu doesn’t advise women to drive in high heels but says those who prefer to do so, should consider their sitting position. “

Sit correctly at the wheel. Make sure you’re seated close enough to the steering wheel and position your back at a particular angle. Don’t lie down. Ensure your seat is elevated enough so you’re comfortable when driving,” Mpofu advises.

3. Potential trouble

Driving in high heels is unsafe, especially if you’re driving a manual car, say Auto Traders’ Ané Theron.

“You can’t really judge the distance between your foot and pedal. You can either slip or accelerate too hard and not be able to brake properly,” Theron cautions.

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Mpofu has a warning concerning pointy heels: “Those sharp ones tend to hook on the mat and could come off when you lift your foot, compromising your ability to control your car.”

4. The sole

Theron says: “The sole shouldn’t be too thick because your foot needs to be sensitive enough to feel the pressure you’re putting onto the pedal. If the soles of your shoes are too thick, you could press your pedals either too hard or too soft without feeling the pressure,” Theron says. Mpofu warns that shoes like platforms, as well as big and fluffy slippers, could overlap onto another pedal and you may end up pressing two pedals at the same time and lose control of your car.

Best shoes for driving

Mpofu and Theron on some of the appropriate shoes you can wear while driving: Trainers or sneakers. Sandals, and not flip flops or shoes that don’t support your foot. Any shoe that is flat.

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