There are lots of things to consider every time you get behind the wheel of your car. The one thing you might not always give a lot of thought to is your footwear. After all, as long as it’s comfortable who cares? It’s your choice. Or is it?
So, can I drive with slippers? In the US, the answer is yes. No state has a regulation on the books that makes driving in slippers – or even driving barefoot – an offense. Whether or not it is safe to do so, however, is a different matter.
There are a number of reasons why the idea of driving in slippers would be an appealing one. comfort is important to most drivers, especially if their drive is going to be a longer one. And what is more comfortable – and kind to the feet – than a nice comfy pair of slippers?
Road safety experts do have concerns though. If a slipper is very loose, or flimsy, there is a possibility that it may slip off and slip beneath the pedals. It is becomes stuck under one, if only for a few seconds, the results can be disastrous. In addition, many question how comfortable driving in a very thin soled shoe really is. After all, those pedals are metal, and metal is hard.
The fact is though, you can drive in slippers, as long as they are the right ones. Here’s a look at how you can go about finding the right slippers to drive in for you.
Basic footwear considerations for drivers
Many of us don’t give much thought to the impact that our footwear can have on our driving. But perhaps we should. Several years ago the AA – the UK’s version of the US’s AAA – conducted an extensive survey on the issue. They found that, when asked, 27% of their membership admitted that they had encountered difficulties on the road because of the footwear they had chosen to put on that day.
Perhaps even more disturbing was the fact that 5% of the AA members questioned said that their poor footwear choices had actually led to them driving dangerously, experiencing a loss of control or even having an accident. If you translate that figure and apply it to all drivers on the road it means that a lot of them are not as safe as they could be, simply because they don’t give enough thought to what they wear.
According to experts, the right footwear can actually enhance your driving too. The act of driving – especially if you are using the pedals a lot, as is often the case in the kind of stop and go traffic many people encounter during their daily commute – can really take its toll on your feet and ankles.
If you are wearing footwear that makes your feet feel relaxed and comfortable however the control you have over your vehicle improves, you can react faster to changes in traffic or road conditions and you can become a smoother driver. Yes, all because of the shoes you wear.
It’s for all of these reasons that an increasing number of people, including many driving and safety experts, are now suggesting that people start considering purchasing footwear especially for driving. And one very popular choice right now is the driving slipper.
What are driving slippers?
You may have never heard of them before, but the concept of the driving slipper – a shoe that is usually crafted in a moccasin style with a slim, rubberized sole for grip – is nothing new. They actually first appeared in Italy some 70 years ago and were especially designed for those lucky people who drove the classic Italian roadsters of the time.
Hollywood stars like Sean Connery and Steve McQueen were also big fans of them and helped make them popular in the 1950s and 1960s with drivers on both sides of the Atlantic. While they might not be able to drive the fancy cars that these celebrities did at least they could wear the same footwear!
After falling out of fashion for a while these slippers are now making a comeback in a big way, and there are, if you do a quick Internet search, a lot of options out there to choose from, in lots of different price ranges. And they are no longer just for guys, there are lots of great driving slippers for women available too. There are even some that are designed to be unisex.
So what should you look for in the right driving slipper for you? Here are a few pointers:
A great fit
While a driving slipper is supposed to be comfortable and non-constricting, it’s important that they do not fit so loosely that they slip off. As driving slippers are slip ons over time they are likely to loosen up a little if they are not crafted from a sturdier material, which is why some of the best choices have leather, suede or PU, as these materials tend to hold their shape better while still being light and breathable.
If you won’t be purchasing your driving slippers in a physical store, where your feet can be measured and you can try the footwear on, make sure you read customer reviews before you buy online, as in most cases if the shoes run small/run big or have other fit issues previous customers will mention it. This way you’ll have a better idea of just what might be the right size to order (and here’s an extra tip; make sure that returns are covered, just in case you make a mistake)
A good sole
The sole of a driving slipper is important. Those early Italian versions were given a thin, rubberized sole that allowed for control while also allowing the driver to ‘feel’ the pedals as they drove. And that is still considered to be the ‘gold standard’ for their modern counterparts. While not all soles are rubber they should be soft and at least somewhat ridged, especially in the forefoot, as completely smooth soles can be slippery and hazardous if they cause your feet to slip off the pedals.
Driving slippers are very different from the furry – or fluffy – house slippers you might put on after a long day when you get home. As they were designed for those who drove some very stylish cars they are supposed to be very fashion forward and stylish as well.
As previously mentioned, most driving slippers resemble a moccasin in style, but there are some variations. For those looking for a slightly more modern edge a number of shoe companies – including PUMA and adidas – have created driving slippers that are modeled after the soft sneaker style driving shoes that today’s Formula One race drivers wear that feature the same driving comfort and safety features you should be looking for in a good driving slipper but with a slightly sporty edge that some people might prefer.
Some driving slippers are also equipped with what you might call comfort extras. For those who have fallen arches, for example, or flat feet as the condition is also known, driving can be quite painful at times. The fact that you can purchase driving slippers that feature additional arch support is a big boon for them. You can also find driving slippers that feature fully padded soles – which are very comfortable – and many are designed to let your feet ‘breathe’ as you drive, something that’s very welcome when you are stuck in a summer traffic jam!
Can you wear driving slippers outside?
One of the big questions that some have when they consider purchasing driving slippers is whether or not they can, or should be worn outside like ‘regular’ shoes or simply left in the car for driving purposes only.
The answer usually lies in the soles. Most good driving slippers have, as we’ve mentioned, soft soles. So walking on hard pavement for an extended period of time in them will possibly not be the most comfortable feeling, and might result in foot pain and stiffness. You might also end up stepping on something hard and as the soles don’t offer the same protection that standard shoes do then that is likely to hurt more as well. Then there is the question of wear. The more you walk outside in soft soled driving slippers the faster they are going to wear out.
Therefore, as stylish as they are – and many of them really are very good looking – it might be best to reserve the use of driving slippers for just that, driving.