Drivers are valuing footwear fashion over safety behind the wheel, according to the latest research from uSwitch.
Summer trends affecting driver safety
As the weather warms up, more people are digging out their fashionable flip flops, heels and summer wedges — but not all these choices are suited to getting behind the wheel. More than eight out of ten drivers (82%) believe their choice of footwear can affect their safety while driving, and over one in ten (12%) admit they have stalled a car because their shoes were difficult to drive in.
In the survey, drivers admitted to getting behind the wheel in inappropriate shoes including cloggs, jelly shoes, and golf spikes. More than a third (35%) of people said they had experienced some sort of driving mishap in the last year due to the shoes they were wearing. Perhaps surprisingly, trainers were most likely to cause an accident or near miss (34%), followed by slippers (20%) and flip flops (20%).
With the wider range of footwear fashions available for women, they are twice as likely to drive in shoes they struggle to walk in (8% of women compared to 4% of men). Womens’ more extravagant shoe choices could also explain why 19% have driven barefoot to be more comfortable, compared to 10% of men.
But driving barefoot comes with its own dangers, and is even illegal in Scotland. A fifth (21%) of people who have driven barefoot admit they stalled the car while doing so, and 15% said they found themselves stopping too suddenly. A third (33%) of people say they would refuse to be a passenger in a car if the driver was barefoot, but worryingly 3% of people think barefoot is the safest way to drive.
Despite the dangers of driving barefoot or in inappropriate footwear, just 16% of people keep a spare pair of driving shoes in their car. Women are much more likely than men to take this precaution, with 22% of women doing so compared to just 8% of men.
The survey found that men were slightly more likely to stall their car due to inappropriate footwear (13% of men vs 11% of women), so should perhaps reconsider bringing a spare pair of shoes. Of the drivers who keep a spare pair of shoes in their car, 36% choose pumps and 35% choose trainers — despite their thick soles and the lack of pedal control they allow.
Kasey Cassells, insurance expert at uSwitch.com, says: “It may seem a bit old fashioned, but driving shoes are the must have accessory for any weekend away in the car. A spare pair of well-fitting flats or pumps can make a difference to your driving style and help you get more out of your motor by preventing stalling, swerving and stopping too quickly.
“You wouldn’t drive without glasses if you need them or wear a hat that covers your eyes, so you shouldn’t wear shoes that impair your driving. However, the good news is that some people, especially women, are taking steps to address this by keeping a spare pair of driving shoes in the car.”