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Research from the AA in Great Britain shows that more than a quarter of drivers reported driving difficulties caused by the shoes they were wearing, says Gary Ronald, spokesman of the AA in South Africa.
“British drivers are among the safest in the world, so if a quarter of them report trouble with footwear, we believe South African drivers might have similar issues.
“Our warm climate means many people wear flip-flops, and the British survey mentions this. Almost one-third of respondents said they’d had trouble with flip-flops.”
The dangers of driving in flip-flops range from trouble applying full braking to having them get stuck in the floor mats when releasing the clutch, brake or accelerator.
They also leave the foot mostly exposed in the event of footwell deformation in a frontal crash.
While footwear is unlikely to prevent these injuries, a decent pair of shoes might assist in reducing injuries in less serious crashes.
The research also mentions high heels in some detail; a fifth of women reported problems caused by high heels. However, 84 percent of women said they kept a spare pair of shoes in the vehicle for days when they were wearing heels but had to drive.
“If you take off your heels in favour of more practical driving shoes, remember not to leave the heels lying in the driver’s footwell where they could slide forward and obstruct the brake or clutch,” Ronald says.
He urges motorists to keep a small towel in their vehicles to dry the soles of their shoes if they had to walk through water to get to the vehicle. “Wet shoes can cause feet to slip off the pedals, which has obvious risks in the first few minutes of a drive, especially when leaving a car park with pedestrians milling about, or reversing out of a confined driveway.”
The typical leather shoe worn by business people is a good choice for driving.
It fits well without being uncomfortable, and is bulky enough to offer some foot protection in crashes. Running shoes and similar types of footwear are also ideal driving shoes.
“South African law doesn’t say anything about the footwear car drivers should be wearing,” Ronald says. “However, the British research shows that it is a safety concern and we advise people to wear comfortable, close-fitting shoes when they drive.” -Star Motoring