feet hanging out a car window

Driving With Flip Flops in the UK: Is It Illegal?

December 14, 2023

In the warm summer months, it's tempting to slip on a pair of flip flops as you head out the door, perhaps even when you're driving. However, before you do, it's essential to consider the legal and safety aspects of driving with flip flops in the UK. While it’s not explicitly illegal, it’s important to understand that a range of different factors can be used against you in an insurance claim - even inappropriate footwear! So, let’s take a look at why flip flops aren’t the best choice for driving.

UK Road Safety Laws

The UK's road safety laws focus primarily on driving safely and responsibly. While there are no specific laws prohibiting the use of flip flops while driving, general road safety regulations require drivers to operate vehicles safely. Footwear, like flip flops, that may impair this ability, can be a point of contention.

Specifics About Appropriate Footwear

The Highway Code doesn't explicitly list what footwear is considered appropriate for driving, however, it does imply the need for footwear that doesn't hinder the driver's ability to use the controls effectively. Thus, while driving with flip flops isn't illegal per se, it could be considered inappropriate if it affects your driving.

The Hazards of Driving in Flip Flops

Potential Risks and Dangers

One potential danger of flip flops is that they can easily slip off or get stuck under pedals, potentially leading to a loss of control or delayed braking reactions. They lack the grip and support provided by more secure footwear, increasing the risk of foot slippage or not being able to apply sufficient pressure on the pedals when needed.

Impact on Vehicle Control and Braking

In a situation where rapid and controlled braking is required, flip flops could impair your ability to apply the necessary force quickly and accurately; this limitation could lead to longer stopping distances or even failing to stop in time, resulting in an accident, and yes, the accident can be your fault.

When Is It Considered Illegal to Drive With Flip Flops?

feet stepping on gas and clutch pedal while wearing flipflops

While driving with flip flops is not explicitly illegal, it becomes a legal issue if it’s deemed to have contributed to careless or dangerous driving; for example, if an accident occurs and your choice of footwear is found to have impaired your driving ability, you could face charges of careless or even dangerous driving. In some cases, you may even waive the right to compensation if the other driver’s insurance company can prove you were at fault.

Safe Alternatives to Flip Flops

To ensure safety and compliance with the law, it’s recommended to wear footwear that securely fits, provides adequate grip, and allows precise control of the pedals. Closed-toe shoes with a firm sole are typically a safe choice, so if you prefer to wear flip flops before or after your journey, consider keeping a suitable pair of driving shoes in your car.

The Bottom Line

Ultimately, while there’s no direct legal prohibition against driving with flip flops in the UK, doing so could lead to serious safety risks and legal complications if it's determined to have contributed to an accident.

For your safety and the safety of others both in the passenger seat and on the road, it's highly advisable to choose appropriate, secure footwear when driving. Safe footwear not only enhances your control over the vehicle but also ensures that you stay on the right side of the law, avoiding scenarios where an accident can be seen to be your fault due to poor or careless decisions. Remember, safety on the road is paramount both for you and others’ safety, and it starts with something as simple as the shoes on your feet.


Can I be fined for driving with flip flops if I'm involved in an accident?

If it's determined that your choice of footwear contributed to careless or dangerous driving leading to an accident, you could face legal consequences, including fines and penalties. The footwear would be considered as part of the overall assessment of your driving at the time of the accident, so would work against you.

Are there any specific types of footwear recommended for driving?

While there are no specific types recommended by law, it's advisable to wear shoes that securely fit, provide good grip, and allow you to operate the pedals effectively. Typically, closed-toe shoes with a firm sole are considered suitable for driving, like trainers or smart lace-up shoes with a flat, uniform sole.

Is driving barefoot legal in the UK?

Driving barefoot is not illegal in the UK. However, like with flip flops, if driving barefoot is deemed to impair your ability to control the car safely, it could be considered as careless or dangerous driving in the event of an accident.