Late this summer, a British insurance company conducted a survey of 1,000 British motorists. About 27% of respondents reported experiencing a “near miss” of an auto accident related to their footwear. Aside from the obvious hazard of getting your flip-flop wedged underneath one of pedals, delayed braking time is another huge issue. Although these dangers apply to all open-heeled shoes, flip-flops, which rarely conform to the true shape of the foot, are the biggest culprit.
Researchers have also performed studies with a driving simulator that quantify these delays. They found that braking with a flip flop can slow down your car’s deceleration by up to 0.13 seconds. For a car traveling highway speed – around 60 mph – this can translate to an extra 3.5 meters in braking distance. That’s about 11.5 feet – ⅔ the length of an average midsize car. . Even in optimal weather conditions, that can mean the difference between a close call and a rear-end collision.
In the British poll, 33% of drivers admitted to wearing flip flops while driving. We can only presume that the number of flip-flop wearers in the Sunshine State would be substantially greater. Because it’s unlikely that Floridians will ever abandon flip-flops completely, drivers are encouraged to keep a separate pair of driving shoes in the car at all times. The safest shoes for getting behind the wheel? Sneakers or low-heeled flats.