Nearly 80 percent of women drivers wear unsafe shoes when they're behind the wheel, a survey conducted by the United Kingdom price comparison website Confused.com says.
All told, 40 percent of women drivers say they wear high heels when driving, a safety faux pas according to many driving experts. Additionally, another 39 percent of women drivers say they wear wedges, platform heels or other footwear unsuitable for safe driving, the survey concludes.
"Women have been driving in high heels for years," said Lauren Fix, automotive columnist and safety expert. "Part of the problem is that they are wearing these six-inch spike heels with these new risers on the bottom. So you're not getting a good feel of the pedal."
Nearly half the women between the ages of 24-35 wear heels when behind the wheel, making that group the most likely to place fashion over safe driving habits.
"Wearing inappropriate footwear could cause the driver to lose control of the car and so we'd recommend keeping a pair of suitable shoes in the car to avoid any crashes," said Gareth Kloet of Confused.com in a statement. "Look at your feet; if you are wearing shoes which you would not wear for a driving test then you probably shouldn't wear them to drive either."
|Yes, all the time||65 (34.4%)|
|From time to time||48 (25.4%)|
Of course, women are not alone. Twenty seven percent of driving men admit to wearing flip flops, which is considered equally unsafe because they can slip off and get jammed between the gas and brake pedals.
Another 22 percent admit to driving barefoot, which is illegal in Britain. Barefoot car driving is legal in America.
However, driving with your toes can be equally dangerous, said Fix.
No similar survey has been done in America, but the same dangers present themselves.
"Flip flops are worse than heels in my opinion," says Matt Reilly, director of the U.S. based charity B.R.A.K.E.S, which stands for Be Responsible And Keep Everyone Safe.
Reilly is also a driving instructor for the organization, which teaches teens how to stay safe behind the wheel.
The reason high heels present a problem is that a good driver plants his or her heel on the car's floor, Reilly explained. That makes it easy to move their foot from the gas to the brake. High heels make that nearly impossible.
Furthermore, some shoes may not provide a solid position on the pedal. Heels and flip flops also can get jammed under or against a pedal or require a person to lift their foot off the floor to press a pedal down.
"Sometimes you only have a split second to react," Reilly says. "You put yourself at a great disadvantage if you're not wearing the right shoes."
So what's the best foot gear for either sex? Reilly says that a comfortable flat, rubber soled shoe should do just the trick. It allows for the easy movement and a solid grip on the pedal.