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It’s a question we as motoring lawyers get asked all the time. Can you drive in high heels? Isn’t it illegal? Whilst driving in six-inch stilettos is clearly not ideal, is it legal? And what would be the consequences should an accident arise from driving in your heels?
The Law on Driving in Heels
First of all, there is no specific legislation, which solely deals with the issue of driving in high heels. From a legal viewpoint, motorists may wear any type of shoes including flip flops, high heels or stilettos whilst in control of a motor vehicle. Furthermore, it is also perfectly legal to drive without any shoes.
Notwithstanding this, the Highway Code does state that you must not wear footwear that precludes you from using the vehicle foot controls properly. Specifically Rule 97 of the Highway Code states that before setting off on a journey, you should ensure that ‘clothing and footwear do not prevent you using the controls in the correct manner’. However, the Highway Code is not the law and is more guidance as to recommended road conduct.
Driving without due care and attention
Perhaps more realistically, should an individual become involved in an accident as a result of inappropriate footwear, they could be considered to be driving ‘without due care and attention’. Sometimes referred to as ‘careless driving’, to convict a motorist of this offence, the Prosecution must be able to prove that their standard of driving fell below that expected of a competent driver or that they did not show “reasonable” consideration for other road users.
There is no definitive list of manoeuvres or actions that can amount to careless driving and the above is very much open to interpretation. However should an officer form an opinion that a motorist’s driving is careless, charges may be brought. Charges may also be brought on the evidence of another road user who witnessed the driving. The penalty for careless driving depends entirely on the seriousness of the offence and can range from three to nine penalty points on your driving licence in addition to a fine.
While it is can be possible to defend allegations of driving without due care and attention, should it become apparent the defendant was wearing unsuitable footwear which may have played a part in the manner of their driving, it is likely to become far more difficult to defend the matter.
Problems arising from driving in heels
Driving in heels, and indeed any form of unsuitable shoes, has the potential to cause a variety of problems, particularly getting your heel stuck in the floor of the vehicle. In addition, the heel of the foot needs to be on the floor to achieve the correct pedal action. High heels elevate the foot unnaturally and distort the ability to measure the correct amount of pressure to be applied to the pedals.
It is not just heels that cause a problem for the motorist. Those who have driven whilst wearing flip flops are likely to be familiar with them having slipped off their feet. Flip flops come off extremely easily and can get jammed under a pedal. Also, drivers can get easily distracted trying to locate a ‘lost’ flip flop from underneath the pedal or trying to locate the same and put it back on their foot. This can be extremely dangerous and driving in flip flops is often a cause of traffic collisions.
Should you not have a suitable pair of ‘driving’ shoes within your vehicle it may in fact be preferable for you to consider driving barefoot although this is not without risk. So in conclusion, it would appear to be a sensible precaution to always have a pair of sensible ‘driving shoes’ in your car.
While there is no legal opportunity to wear suitable shoes, doing so runs the risk of causing serious harm to yourself and others, and could lead to prosecution. In conclusion, every driver has a responsibility when they go behind the wheel and driving is a privilege not a right.
Advice for driving in Heels from a specialist Motoring Law Solicitor
Ruth Peters, Specialist Motoring Solicitor at Olliers Motor Law comments:
” I would advise every driver, and in particular female motorists, to consider their choice of footwear. Surely it goes without saying that driving in very high heels is not only inappropriate but also a danger to yourself and others.
I would advise female motorists to consider keeping a pair of ‘driving shoes’ in their car in order to use . Whilst this may not be the most appealing choice of footwear, safety of yourself and other road users is of paramount importance.”