Given how much driving is a part of our lives, it can be easy to forget just how dangerous operating a vehicle that’s thousands of pounds can be. Our actions behind the wheel, from what we’re wearing to where we’re looking, have a significant impact on whether or not we make it safely to our destination. Experts warn that there is one specific clothing item that is especially risky to wear when you’re behind the wheel. Read on to see what you should never wear while driving.
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Never wear the wrong shoes when driving.
Wearing the wrong kind of shoes behind the wheel can be extremely dangerous. Faulty footwear can lead to “pedal error,” where your foot either slips off the brake or accelerator pedal, or you push the wrong pedal entirely. Both of these slip-ups can easily cause a crash. Geico reports that a study done by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that about 16,000 crashes every year are due to pedal error. “The wrong kind of shoe can cause an obstruction or a hazard while driving,” Ryan Pietzsch, driver safety education expert for the National Safety Council, told Geico.
Laura Adams, safety and education analyst at Driver’sEd.com, told Reader’s Digest that wearing the right shoes is “an often-overlooked safety preparation that drivers can take to reduce the chances of getting into a deadly car crash.”
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Flip-flops and high heels are the riskiest shoes to wear.
It seems to be a toss-up between flip-flops and high heels for the most dangerous shoe to wear while driving. “There’s honestly a tie between flip-flops and high heels,” says personal injury attorney John J. Reagan, who specializes in car accidents. “Flip-flops are loose and not secured to your feet, so if you choose to wear them while driving, they may bend and get stuck under either the brake or gas pedal. On the other hand, an extremely high heel can cause a driver to accidentally place their foot on the gas versus the brake (and vice versa), because of the amount of space between their foot and the intended pedal.”
Podiatrist and foot surgeon Bruce Pinker, DPM agrees that these shoe choices are the riskiest. “The high heels are dangerous because the extended heel height can obstruct contact with the pedals, potentially leading to an accident. Flip-flops can easily fall off the foot while driving, leading to distracted driving and potential complications with loss of control of the vehicle,” he explains.
Pinker also advises against wearing platform boots or athletic footwear such as golf shoes or cleats. “Generally speaking, any footwear that fits loosely on the foot can lead to driving issues as the loose shoes can create an obstacle to safe driving by interfering with acceleration and braking,” he adds. According to Geico, drivers should similarly avoid wearing mules, slippers, wedges, work boots, cowboy boots, or going barefoot behind the wheel.
Keep a safe shoe option in your car.
Pietzsch acknowledges that you won’t always be leaving your house in sensible shoes, so he suggests keeping another pair in the car that you can change into. If you’re someone who often wears heels, flip-flops, or other risky footwear, it would be wise to keep a safer pair somewhere in your vehicle. He told Geico that if you have a second pair of safer shoes in the car, you just need to switch into them before driving and ensure you put the other pair away from the footwell, so they don’t get in the way. You can step into your preferred shoes once you reach your destination.
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You should also avoid wearing long or tight clothing while driving.
Shoes aren’t the only clothing item that could add unnecessary risk when driving. Pinker warns against wearing long dresses, skirts, scarves, or pants that can get caught on something, like your shoes, and distract you while driving. Karen Condor, driving safety expert at autoinsurance.org, says you should also avoid tight clothing that could impede your ability to move, loose headwear that could slip over your eyes, and bulky layers that could distract you if you need to remove a layer while driving.
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