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Is It Illegal To Drive Barefoot In NY?

After a long day at work in uncomfortable dress shoes or high heels, it may be very tempting to remove your shoes and drive home barefoot. However, it is very likely that we have all heard someone mention at some point in our lives that driving barefoot is unsafe and illegal. But, is that true?

The safety of barefoot driving is a highly debatable topic, some people think it is more dangerous while others say it safer under certain conditions. What is not debatable is the legality of driving barefoot. New York traffic law does not have any rule or regulation that prohibits barefoot driving. This means that if you are pulled over, no police officer will be able to give you a ticket for barefoot driving. Nevertheless, it is important to keep in mind that just because it is not illegal, that does not mean it cannot have any consequences in the event of a motor vehicle accident. 

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What the law in New York says

In New York, driving barefoot is not against the law. Actually, none of the country’s 50 states do. Jason Heimbaugh explored the legality of driving barefoot in the 1990s. He wrote a letter to each state’s Department of Motor Vehicles, inquiring if it was lawful in their state. It took some time, but all of the departments to which he addressed a letter responded and assured him that driving barefoot was legal.

Many years have passed, but the laws have remained unchanged. However, as previously mentioned, even if it is not illegal, it may have implications in the event of an automobile accident. While a law enforcement officer will not give you a traffic ticket for barefoot driving, the law requires all drivers to drive as safely as possible.

If you are involved in a car accident while driving barefoot, the opposing party’s insurance agent may claim that your barefoot driving caused or contributed to the accident. If the jury agrees with the insurance company, your compensation may be decreased or you may even be held accountable for the accident. Insurance companies will go to whatever length to pay as little as possible, thus they will try to prove that driving barefoot constitutes negligent driving.

What about flip-flops?

Similar to barefoot driving, there are no laws that prohibit the use of flip-flops while driving. However, most experts agree that driving while wearing flip-flops is even more dangerous than driving barefoot.

Flip flops do not have straps or anything that secure them to your feet. For that reason they can slip off your shoe and get stuck under the brake pedal or the gas pedal, thus preventing you from being able to fully maneuver or control the vehicle. If you have a car accident while driving while wearing flip-flops, the other party may accuse you of careless driving. 

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Can you drive in high heels?

High heels are another type of footwear that might be hazardous while driving but it is not illegal to drive while wearing them. The biggest issue with high heels is that your heel is not in contact with the vehicle’s floor. The proper foot position while driving is with your heels firmly planted on the automobile floor. If your heels are not positioned correctly, your feet may not be at the correct angle to step on the pedals. That can cause you to miss the brake pedal in a situation where you need to brake suddenly or you can even make contact with both the gas and the brake pedal at the same time. Additionally, high heels usually have slippery soles or soles that do not have a sufficient amount of grip. 

Is driving in socks illegal?

Driving in socks is also not unlawful. However, just like driving barefoot, there may be consequences in the event of a car accident. Driving in socks may be riskier than driving entirely barefoot in terms of safety. Surprisingly, if our feet are moist, they won’t have a good degree of grip. Socks typically lack any form of grip that can provide additional stability while pressing the pedals. As a result, driving while wearing only socks can be more dangerous due to the risk of your feet slipping off the pedal.

So… Is it really dangerous to drive barefoot?

The safety of driving barefoot has been a topic of debate for a long time. There are people who think that driving barefoot is more dangerous than using appropriate footwear. But what exactly is “appropriate footwear”?

Most experts think that the best driving footwear is comfortable sneakers or shoes that fit securely to your foot and have a flat sole. When you’re barefoot, you have no way of uniformly distributing your foot’s force, and you may not have enough pressure to adequately engage the brakes. Furthermore, when the anti-lock braking system (ABS) kicks in your foot may lose stability.

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Additionally, sweat and moisture might make your feet slipperier. It is vital to remember that the surface of the pedals also plays an important function. Some pedals have a rubberized surface, while others are made of plain metal and can be very slippery. Finally, driving barefoot may pose a greater risk of injury to your feet.

Shoes provide additional protection to your feet in the event of a car accident. However, other people believe that driving barefoot has some advantages, such as direct contact with the car, which may make some people feel safer or more in control of the vehicle. Lastly, while driving barefoot is not usually advised, it is better than driving in flip flops, high heels, or socks.

What to do if you get in an accident while driving barefoot

Like in every other car accident situation, remaining calm is crucial. Make sure that you and the other passengers are unharmed. If someone is injured, make sure to get medical care as soon as possible. You will also need to take the other driver’s contact information and their license plate number, car model, and year. Make sure to provide them with the same information.

Next, report the accident to your auto insurance company and the police. Take photos and videos of the accident and gather as much evidence as possible. Finally, it is highly advisable to contact a personal injury lawyer to protect your rights and increase your chances of getting fair compensation for your damages.

Getting involved in a car accident is something very common these days, therefore having an experienced attorney represent you is very important. At Greenberg & Stein P.C., our attorneys have years of experience dealing with all kinds of car accidents. Feel free to contact us at 212-681-2535 to schedule a free case consultation with a member of our legal team to review your case. 

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