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Is It Legal To Drive Barefoot In Tennessee?

Posted by Harlene Labrum | Jun 07, 2021 | 0 Comments

It is summer, and while you are running errands, you decide to kick off your flip flops or shoes and drive barefoot. If you suddenly ask yourself whether it is legal to drive barefoot in Tennessee, you can rest assured that yes, driving barefoot is legal. In fact, there are no laws making barefoot driving illegal anywhere in the United States.  

However, some municipalities might have ordinances prohibiting barefoot driving. Therefore, if you insist on driving barefoot, you may want to check the laws in your area to ensure that you are not inadvertently breaking any laws.

Driving barefoot, while generally legal, is not necessarily advisable as it could lead to accidents. Moreover, law enforcement officers could potentially cite you for careless or reckless driving if they believe you caused an accident due to wearing inappropriate footwear or no shoes at all.

If you suffered injuries in a car crash with a driver who wore inappropriate footwear or drove barefoot, you could have the right to receive compensation as a result of their negligence. While every case is unique, Labrum Law Firm has decades of experience in helping car accident victims recover what they deserve. Call us today for a complimentary case evaluation at (615) 338-9500.

The Dangers of Driving Barefoot

While it is legal to drive barefoot in Tennessee, you may wish to keep your shoes on when operating a vehicle, as driving barefoot can be dangerous and potentially cause accidents.

Bare feet, when wet, can easily slip off a pedal as a foot sole does not have the same grip as a shoe sole. If a driver wears socks, they also risk slipping off the gas or brake pedal. Moreover, shoe soles have more surface area than a bare foot, allowing drivers to press down with more force and weight on a pedal.

In some cases, driving barefoot and pressing down on heavy pedals can cause cramps in the legs, making it yet more difficult to drive safely. If you are involved in a car accident, bare feet are completely unprotected, and the result could be foot injuries and cuts that you would not have sustained with appropriate footwear.

In short, there are many reasons why driving barefoot can be a poor decision. However, if you insist on driving barefoot, try to move the shoes away from the pedal area, as abrupt maneuvers or braking can cause shoes to fly around and end up under the acceleration pedal or brake pedal with potentially disastrous consequences.

Driving with Inappropriate Footwear

Driving with inappropriate footwear such as flip flops or high heels can potentially be just as dangerous or even more dangerous as driving barefoot.

Flip-Flops

Flip-flops can potentially be yet more dangerous than driving barefoot. While driving in flip-flops is not illegal, it can be dangerous. Flip-flops can easily get trapped and stuck under the pedals, making it impossible to brake or accelerate properly. For example, in an emergency situation, when quick braking is required to avoid an accident, having a flip flop stuck under a pedal could have disastrous consequences and lead to devastating accidents. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, British insurer Sheila's Wheels conducted a study and found that 1 in 14 drivers blame wearing flip-flops on having a car accident or near-miss.

Shoes with Long Laces

If you think sneakers are a fairly safe choice for driving, you might want to think again. Shoes with particularly long laces, or laces that come undone easily, can become dangerous while driving. Loose laces can get tangled up in the pedals and make driving unnecessarily awkward. A way to avoid problems is making sure your laces are tied well or tucked away safely before setting off on a drive.

High Heels

A shoe with a moderate heel is unlikely to cause significant problems while driving. However, the extremely high heels and platform shoes that have become a fashion accessory in recent years can be more problematic. While shoes with regular soles allow drivers to press down firmly on a pedal when braking or changing gears, high heels and platform shoes can make it hard for the driver to push down the pedal properly.

A particularly high heel can also get stuck under a pedal or make using the pedals unnecessarily awkward. All this can be a distraction for the driver as well as increase their reaction time, potentially causing avoidable accidents.

What Can I Do to Stay Safe?

While there are few statistics about barefoot driving or inappropriate footwear causing accidents, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has studied the phenomenon of unintended acceleration. One conclusion of the study was that pedal misapplication could be a reason for unintended acceleration accidents. It is not entirely unreasonable to assume that the wrong footwear or driving barefoot can contribute to pedal misapplication accidents.

If you want to play it safe, you can keep a pair of “sensible” shoes in the car for driving. This can help avoid accidents as well as being potentially blamed for an accident if law enforcement or the insurance company find out that you were driving in inappropriate footwear or barefoot.

While driving barefoot or in inappropriate footwear is not technically illegal in Tennessee, if fault for an accident is contested and a police officer noted that you were driving barefoot, you may be at a disadvantage.

How the Experienced Attorneys at Labrum Law Firm Can Help You

Wearing appropriate footwear can help avoid accidents as well as injury to your feet in a car crash. However, it is legal to drive barefoot or with inappropriate footwear in Tennessee. Therefore, if you get into an accident, not wearing the appropriate footwear in itself does not render you inherently negligent for an accident if the other party is at fault.

However, if an individual is distracted or having a pedal malfunction for reasons of inappropriate footwear or driving barefoot, they will still be at fault for your accident even if the act of driving barefoot itself is not illegal.

If you suffered injuries and property damage in a car accident that happened due to another's carelessness or recklessness, an experienced car accident lawyer from Labrum Law Firm can advise you on your legal rights and whether you have legal recourse. We can also help to:

  • Gather evidence to prove your case
  • Negotiate with the at-fault party's insurance company
  • Organize evidence proving your damages and financial losses
  • File the necessary documents for a lawsuit
  • Represent you aggressively at court

Contact us Labrum Law Firm now and speak to us about your case for free at (615) 338-9500.

About the Author

Harlene Labrum

Harlene is focused and passionate about helping those injured in car wrecks.  She earned her J.D. at Nashville School of Law and her Bachelor's degree at State University of New York at Albany, awarded with the highest GPA and high honors.  Harlene began her career in law as a personal injury par...

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