It’s the job we all sigh at when we get assigned it – the designated driver.
Of course sometimes this isn’t always something that’s planned, you’re simply the only one in the group who is not completely plastered.
If you’re a woman, you might not always be dressed for the task. After all, six inch heels aren’t exactly ideal for driving.
It’s hardly going get you out of your designated driver duties, but what if you ended up having an accident as a result of wearing inappropriate footwear?
Thanks to MM’s partnership with Olliers Solicitors, a leading criminal law firm based in Manchester, MM can shed some light on the legal ramifications of having an accident while wearing high heels.
First of all, there is no specific law dealing with the issue of driving in high heels.
From a legal viewpoint drivers can wear any type of shoes including flip flops, high heels or stilettos while in control of a motor vehicle.
Indeed it is also perfectly legal to drive barefoot. However the Highway Code does state that you must not wear footwear that precludes you from using the vehicle foot controls properly.
Rule 97 of the Highway Code states that before setting off on a journey in your car, you should ensure that ‘clothing and footwear do not prevent you using the controls in the correct manner’.
The issue could however be considered to be driving without due care and attention should you become involved in an accident as a result of inappropriate footwear.
Sometimes referred to as driving without due care, to convict a motorist of this offence the Prosecution must be able to prove that:
1. Your standard of driving fell below that expected of a competent driver; or
2. That you did not show “reasonable” consideration for other road users
There is no definitive list of manoeuvres or actions that can amount to careless driving and the above is very much open to interpretation.
However should an officer form an opinion that your driving is careless, charges may be brought brought against you. The same can be said if you are reported by another road user.
The penalty for careless driving depends entirely on the seriousness of the offence and can range from three to nine penalty points on your driving licence in addition to a fine.
While it is often possible to defend allegations of driving without due care and attention, should it become apparent the defendant was wearing unsuitable footwear and may have played a part in the manner of their driving, it is likely to become far more difficult to defend the allegation.
Driving in unsuitable shoes, particularly high heels, can cause a variety of problems, including getting your heel stuck in the floor of the vehicle
Additionally the heel of your foot needs to be on the floor to achieve the correct pedal action. High heels elevate it and distort the ability to measure how much pressure needs to be applied.
Similarly most female motorists who have driven whilst wearing flip flops are likely to be familiar with them having slipped off their feet.
Flip flops come off too easily and can get jammed under a pedal, or distract the driver while trying to put it back on their foot.
This can be especially dangerous and driving in flip flops is often a cause of traffic collisions.
Should you not have a suitable pair of shoes within your vehicle it may in fact be preferable for you to consider driving barefoot although this is not without risk.
So in conclusion, it would appear to be a sensible precaution to always have a pair of sensible ‘driving shoes’ in your car.
While there is no legal opportunity to wear suitable shoes, doing so runs the risk of casing serious harm to yourself and others, and could lead to action being brought against you.
The bottom line is every driver has a responsibility when they go behind the wheel.
Deputy Chief executive of Road safety charity Brake Julie Townsend sums it up quite well.
She said: “It is deeply worrying that many drivers have such little regard for their own and others’ safety that they wear unsuitable footwear.
“Driving is a responsibility that needs to be taken seriously.”
Do you have a question for the legal team at Olliers Solicitors?
Their specialist criminal lawyers – including a specialist motor law department – are ready to answer your questions for FREE. All you have to do is email them in to our newsdesk here: newsdesk (at) mancunianmatters (dot) co (dot) uk
You can find more about Olliers Solicitors here.
Image courtesy of James C, with thanks.