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Learning to drive

Driving shoes: A real thing

There is no law in Ontario saying you must wear sensible, flat-soled granny shoes to drive. But if your footwear affects your ability to use the pedals, you could cause an accident - impacting your insurance, risking licence demerit points, and most importantly: reducing your own safety and the safety of others.

Ontario’s sweaty summers and frigid winters often call for footwear that can cause you to lose control of your car. Scan the list below to make sure you always put your best foot forward when picking your driving shoes.

Shoes to avoid now and forever:

  1. Loose shoes

    Driving in loose shoes, and particularly flip-flops, is a very silly idea. Flip-flops slip off. They slither under the pedals. They get caught between your feet and stop you braking in time to avoid a crash.

    Just don't drive in flip-flops.

  2. High heeled shoes

    High heels are likely to make you use the pedal with just the ball of your foot, which may not give you enough force to brake properly. And really - they just put your foot in an awkward, uncomfortable position on the pedal. Also, if you're a lover of stilettos, that thin heel could get caught in the floor mat.

  3. Wet shoes

    If it's wet out, wipe your feet on the floor mat before driving so your shoes don't slip on the pedals.

  4. Unlaced shoes

    If you're wearing shoes with laces, make sure they're tied up properly and maybe even tuck the laces in. Ever looked at your tangled headphones and wondered how on earth they got like that? Weird stuff happens.

  5. Clumpy shoes

    Big boots like Hunters can accidentally cover the brake and accelerator at once, so maybe not best for driving. Knee-high boots can also get caught in the seat and restrict your ability to switch between the brake and accelerator.

  6. Flappy shoes

    There was a crash in the U.K. last year where a woman was charged with dangerous driving because a button on one of her Uggs got caught on a pedal. Maybe don't wear shoes with excess flappiness?!

  7. No shoes

    I mean, sure you can feel the pedals better. But 1: If you don't spend literally all your time barefoot, your feet are delicate and so will instinctively react to, say, stubbing a toe on a pedal. 2: Your feet don't have good grip and can slide off the pedals.

    And what if you crashed? Out you jump, straight into broken glass. Owww.

If you're still learning

For driving lessons, it's best to start out wearing fairly thin-soled shoes so you can feel exactly how much pressure you're putting on the pedals. The Canada Safety Council recommends that the sole of your shoe should be no thicker than 2.5 cm.

And trust me, if you come out of the house in 6-inch platforms, your driving instructor will send you right back in.

As I got more confident with my lessons, I started introducing more suspect shoe choices, like army boots and sandals. I always told my driving instructor I was testing new shoes, which he found hilarious - but I'm certainly not going to be wearing trainers every day for the rest of my life. *Shudder*

It's all common sense, really

If you wouldn't wear high heels to the gym, or mega-gumboots to go out dancing, why would you wear them when they could cause a terrible crash?>

Some guidelines for driving shoes:

  • Fairly thin soled so you can feel the pedals
  • Properly fitted so they can't slip off
  • Slim enough that they don't cover 2 pedals
  • Grippy, so your feet don't slide on the pedals
  • Fabulous of course - we're safety-conscious, not 70

And a good rule for driving shoes: If you can’t walk in them properly, there’s a very good chance that you can’t drive in them either.

Police can’t see what you’re wearing on your feet - but they will definitely pull you over for driving in an unsafe manner. And how are you going to explain that it was your shoes’ fault?

Don’t want to compromise your style? Keep a pair of driving shoes in your car. Wear them while you're driving and stow them away again when you arrive.


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Honor joined ingenie in 2014 and is in charge of words on the Young Driver's Guide and blog. She started learning to drive last year, at the age of 24.