One of the longest-standing myths many drivers have heard is that it is illegal to operate a vehicle while barefoot. Going barefoot in the vehicle is a personal preference for individuals, and the good news is that driving barefoot in Pennsylvania is not a crime. Here, we do want to examine some of the risks involved with operating a vehicle without any type of shoes on your feet.
No State or Federal Law Prohibits Barefoot Driving
There is nothing in the law at either the Commonwealth or federal levels that prevents individuals from operating their vehicle while barefoot. This means that drivers do not have to worry about receiving any kind of traffic ticket subway because they were “sans footwear.” However, as with other areas of law, there are exceptions.
If operating a vehicle barefoot caused a traffic accident, the driver could face a reckless driving charge if the law enforcement officer believes that the barefoot driving contributed to the incident. When we examine the Pennsylvania reckless driving statute, we can see that the language required for this law to apply means that the driver must have shown a “willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” This willful and wanton disregard can be difficult to prove, and it is unlikely that simply operating a vehicle barefoot would trigger this particular statute.
The careless driving statute in PA could also apply to incidents involving barefoot driving, and careless driving is defined as a careless disregard for the safety and property of others and does not rise quite to the level of seriousness conveyed through the reckless driving statute.
Safety Risks Involved With Driving While Barefoot
Is it safe to operate a vehicle while barefoot? This has been the subject of debate for years (unless you live in a community near the beach in the summer), with many people claiming operating barefoot is simply more comfortable. However, there are some safety issues drivers should be concerned about if they regularly operate vehicles barefoot.
- Your feet could become slippery. The bottom of a person’s foot could become wet due to precipitation or perspiration, and a sweaty foot could lessen the foot’s ability to grip the gas pedal or the brake, causing the foot to slip off.
- A different “feel” to the pedal. Most people have a good sense of what the pedals feel like when they wear shoes while driving. Operating barefoot completely changes this “feel.” Individuals who operate a vehicle barefoot regularly may not have an issue, but those who only occasionally go barefoot while driving may have a hard time adjusting to this feeling.
- More pressure required to use the pedal. When driving barefoot, it may seem like you have to put more pressure on the pedal to achieve the desired acceleration or braking. One major reason for this is that footwear does add a little length to our legs, and failing to adjust the seat level when operating barefoot would change the usual distance from the bottom of the foot to the pedal.
We encourage you to seriously consider your safety, the safety of your passengers, and the safety of those in other vehicles when deciding whether or not to operate a vehicle barefoot. Please speak to a Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney today to learn more.