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Putting the brakes on high heels

2013-06-12 11:32

HIGH HEEL RISK: A survey reveals that that your choice of footwear could affect your driving - one fifth of women reported problems in high heels.

Automobile Association research in Great Britain (AAGB) shows that more than a quarter of drivers reported driving difficulties caused by the shoes they were wearing according to a recent survey.

Gary Ronald, head of Public Affairs at the Automobile Association of South Africa (AA) said: “British drivers are some of 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 makes mention of this. Almost one-third of respondents said they'd had trouble with flip-flops.”


Fleet Magazine reports that the dangers of driving in flip-flops range from trouble applying full braking to having them become stuck in the floor mats when releasing the clutch, brake or accelerator. They also leave the foot mostly exposed in the event of foot well deformation in a frontal crash.

While footwear is unlikely to prevent these injuries, a decent pair of shoes may assist in reducing injuries in less serious crashes.

The AAGB research also mentioned high heels in some detail; a fifth of women reported problems caused by high heels. However, 84% of women said they kept a spare pair of shoes in the vehicle for days when they were wearing heels but had to drive.

Ronald said: “If you take off your heels in favour of more practical driving shoes, remember not to leave the heels lying in the driver's foot well where they could slide forward and obstruct the brake or clutch.”


He reminded drivers 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.

“It is interesting South African law does not say anything about the footwear car drivers should be wearing. However, the AAGB research shows it is a safety concern and we advise people to wear comfortable, close-fitting shoes when they drive,” said Ronald.

What shoes do you wear while driving? Email us and we'll publish your thoughts on Wheels24.

Subscribe to Fleet Magazine. Email your details to colin@autonews.co.za Subs: R250 pa


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