Briefing Room: It is legal to operate a car barefoot

But driving without shoes isn’t the safest way

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Logo courtesy of Seal Beach PD

Hi Seal Beach,

Last week I was asked an interesting question by a community member.  The young lady approached me and asked if it was illegal to operate a motor vehicle while wearing sandals or barefoot.

The short answer is no.  It is perfectly legal to drive a car with or without footwear, although going without shoes isn’t the safest thing to do.  We get it, you just left the beach, your feet are wet and sandy, and you don’t want to put your shoes back on for the drive home.

While there are no laws in California which require a specific type of shoe while driving, we do have some suggestions on how to prevent injuries and be safe while driving.  Wearing shoes allows for a more uniform pressure to be applied on the brake, gas, and clutch pedals.  Prolonged unbalance pressure could lead to foot pain, or worse, either pressing too hard or not pressing hard enough on the pedal to achieve the desired movement of the car.  Your foot could easily slip off the pedal while you are driving without the added traction of the shoe.  This is especially important during an emergency braking scenario.

Shoes which can easily be slipped off can cause hazards as well.  Sandals, heels, or other shoes can get stuck under the pedals and prevent them from being depressed.  Have you ever had to get out of your vehicle quickly?  What happens if you are in an accident and there is broken glass or other sharp debris on the roadway?  The last thing you want is to come away from a minor fender bender with cut feet because you weren’t wearing shoes.

So, while it is not illegal to wear sandals or be shoeless while driving, we certainly suggest you wear good shoes while driving your car.

Keep your questions coming Seal Beach!  Email us at askacop@sealbeachca.gov today!

Briefing Room: It is legal to operate a car barefoot