Press release:

Stalling in clogs and swerving in slippers – summer shoes putting British divers at risk, warns uSwitch

  • Eight in ten drivers (82%) believe their footwear affects their safety behind the wheel[1]
  • A third (33%) would refuse to get in the car if the driver was not wearing any shoes[2] – but one in five (18%) drive barefoot[3]
  • More than one in ten drivers (12%) have stalled their car in the past year because their shoes made controlling the pedals difficult[4]
  • Despite all the problems inappropriate shoes can cause drivers, just 16% keep a pair of driving shoes in their car[5]
  • Almost one in ten (8%) women admit to wearing shoes behind the wheel that they struggle to walk in[6] – but men are more likely than women to stall their car due to their shoes[7].

With the weather finally hotting up, an alarming number of British drivers are choosing fashion over function behind the wheel. New research by price comparison and switching service, uSwitch.com, reveals that eight in ten drivers (82%) believe that their choice of footwear might be affecting their safety behind the wheel[1].

Driving in inappropriate shoes, or none at all, could not only invalidate people’s car insurance in the case of an accident, it could put themselves and other road users at risk. In fact, a third of Brits (33%) would refuse to get in the car if the driver insisted on going barefoot[2]. Not surprising, given that a fifth (21%) of people who have driven barefoot admit to stalling the car and 15% found that they were stopping too suddenly[8]. Worryingly, 3% of people think that barefoot is the safest way to drive[9].

However, slipping on just any pair of shoes may not solve the problem – over one in ten (12%) people admit to stalling a car in the past year because their choice of footwear made controlling the pedals difficult[4].

But, despite these clear risks, only 16% keep a spare pair of driving shoes in their car[5]. Pumps are the top pick for a driving shoe, with 36%[10] favouring the comfy flat behind the wheel. These are closely followed by trainers, with 35%[10] of Brits opting for the sporty staple. However, these may not always be the safest option as their thick soles can cause drivers to misjudge pressure on the pedals.

Given this summer’s trend for wedges and heels, it’s perhaps no surprise that women are more likely to drive in shoes they struggle to walk in, with almost one in ten (8%) doing so, compared to just 4% of men[6]. The summer fashions also go some way to explaining why women are more likely to drive barefoot (19%) compared to men (10%)[11].

However to compensate for this, one in five women (22%) keep a spare pair of driving shoes in their car, compared to less than one in ten men (8%)[12]. Interestingly, the research challenges the old driving stereotypes – 13% of men in the past year blamed their footwear for stalling the car compared to 11% of women[7].

While driving barefoot or in inappropriate footwear isn’t illegal, a particularly pernickety insurer could perceive it as dangerous driving and, in extreme cases, it could invalidate your insurance in the event of an accident. The guidelines for the best shoes to drive in, according to the RAC, are:

  1. Have a sole no thicker than 10mm
  2. The sole should not be too thin or soft
  3. Provide enough grip to stop your foot slipping off the pedals
  4. Not be too heavy
  5. Not limit ankle movement
  6. Be narrow enough to avoid accidentally depressing two pedals at once[13]

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.

“It is incredibly worrying that some people are putting themselves and other road users at risk by attempting to drive in shoes they struggle to walk in – whether they are heels, Uggs, spikes or even slippers. 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.”

Have you done any of the following in the past year?

Men Women
Worn shoes that you struggle to walk in while driving 4% 8%
Had a shoe come off while driving 3% 7%
Got a flip flop stuck under the pedal 5% 9%
Been forced to drive barefoot because it was more comfortable 10% 19%
Stalled the car because your footwear made controlling the pedals difficult 13% 11%
Driven with bare, wet feet 4% 3%

When your shoes caused a driving mishap which of the following happened?

Accident or near miss Stopped suddenly Accelerated too quickly Swerved Stalled
Barefoot 7% 37% 25% 2% 51%
Trainers 34% 18% 34% 3% 51%
Heels 6% 32% 33% 1% 51%
Wedges 9% 36% 36% 1% 47%
Sandals 11% 30% 18% 4% 52%
Flip flops 20% 27% 20% 3% 54%
Clogs 8% 21% 17% 4% 63%
Slippers 20% 28% 25% 8% 53%
Wellies 7% 31% 37% 1% 46%
Football boots or golf spikes 16% 19% 34% 3% 51%

For more information visit www.uSwitch.com or call 0800 093 0607

— ends —

Notes to editors

All research was carried out online with the uSwitch.com Consumer Opinion Panel in March 2015 amongst a sample of 1,849 GB adults.

  1. When asked ‘Have you ever considered that your footwear might affect your safety behind the wheel?’ 82.4% answered ‘Yes’.
  2. When asked ‘How would you feel as a passenger if the driver was wearing the following: Barefoot’ 32.6% answered ‘Unsafe – I wouldn’t go in the car’.
  3. When asked ‘Have you done any of the following in the past year?’ 18.4% answered ‘Been forced to drive barefoot because it was more comfortable’ or ‘Driven with bare, wet feet’
  4. When asked ‘Have you done any of the following in the past year?’ 11.7% answered ‘Stalled the car because your footwear made controlling the pedals difficult’
  5. When asked ‘Do you keep a spare pair of driving shoes in your car?’ 16.4% answered ‘Yes’.
  6. When asked ‘Have you done any of the following in the past year?’ 8.3% of 1037 women answered ‘Worn shoes that you struggle to walk in while driving’
  7. When asked ‘Have you done any of the following in the past year?’ 10.8% of women and 13.1% of men answered ‘Stalled the car because your footwear made controlling the pedals difficult’
  8. When asked ‘When wearing each types of footwear, have any of the following happened to you because of the type of footwear?’ 50.7% answered ‘Stalled the car’ and 36.6% answered ‘Stopped too suddenly’. 325 people said they drove barefoot and 134 said they had one of the stated mishaps. 50.7% of 134/325 is 20.9% and 36.6% of 134/325 is 15%.
  9. When asked ‘Which shoes do you think are safest to drive in?5% answered ‘Barefoot’.
  10. When asked ‘What type of shoes do you keep in your car as your ‘driving shoes’?’ 35.5% answered ‘Pumps’ and 35.1% answered ‘Trainers’.
  11. When asked ‘Have you done any of the following in the past year?’ 21.7% of women and 14% of men answered ‘Been forced to drive barefoot because it was more comfortable’ or ‘Driven with bare, wet feet’
  12. When asked ‘Do you keep a spare pair of driving shoes in your car?’ 22.1% of 1021 women answered ‘Yes’, 8.1% of 706 men answered ‘Yes’.
  13. http://www.rac.co.uk/community/blog/rac-blog/december-2012/driving-without-shoes-is-it-illegal

About us

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