What to know before getting behind the wheel in the Sunshine State
The idea of driving barefoot in Alaska probably doesn't appeal to you. Holy frostbite, Batman! But you may be tempted to shed your shoes when you're wrapping up a day at the beach in Miami or when you're cruising along the Overseas Highway to Key West, windows rolled down and the Beach Boys on the radio. If losing your shoes and going barefoot sounds like freedom to you, you'll be glad to know that Florida has no laws prohibiting driving without shoes. That doesn't mean you should do it, however.
Q: What are Florida's laws about driving barefoot?
A: In short, there are none. Florida has no statutes regarding acceptable footwear for driving. In fact, driving barefoot actually is legal in all 50 states.
But while it may be legal to drive without shoes, choosing to do so could result in serious consequences. If you cause an accident while driving barefoot, police may conclude that your lack of footwear contributed to the accident and charge you with negligence.
Q: What about driving a motorcycle?
A: Florida has strict laws regarding the proper use of motorcycles and mopeds. Drivers must face forward at all times and keep both hands on the handlebars, for instance. But state laws are fairly lenient about the clothing that drivers of motorcycles and mopeds can wear. In fact, a rider 21 or older doesn't even have to wear a helmet as long as he or she is covered by an insurance policy with at least $10,000 in medical benefits.
The law doesn't address acceptable footwear, so technically, you may be allowed to ride barefoot on a motorcycle or moped. It's really unsafe to do so, however. You'll draw the attention of local police by driving without shoes, and you may be charged with negligence if you cause an accident while barefoot.
Q: What else should I know?
A: Remember: Just because the state of Florida doesn't outlaw barefoot driving doesn't mean skipping shoes when you rent a motorcycle or drive a vehicle as part of a sightseeing tour is a safe option. If you're operating a rented vehicle or driving while participating in a tourist attraction, you're subject to the company's safety rules.
And just because driving barefoot is legal in Florida doesn't make it a good idea. Your skin can't get traction against gas and brake pedals as a nonslip shoe sole does. This means you won't have optimal control over the pedals while driving, and that's dangerous. It's especially risky when your feet are wet or slippery.
Driving in flip-flops or high heels isn't much better, though. Sandals that slip off easily can get stuck under the pedals, and high heels put your feet at an awkward angle for operating those pedals. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that wearing flip-flops, heels or heavy boots may contribute to car crashes. Lightweight, flat-soled shoes are the safest footwear option for driving.