Is Driving Without Shoes Illegal in Australia? (2020 Update)
Although driving without shoes may be the more comfortable option, it's something you may want to think twice about. Learn what the rules are here.
When getting out on the roads, there are many strict rules which apply. These measures all aim to curb the number of accidents and deaths caused by motor vehicle accidents, however there are inevitably some grey areas. In this article, we’ll cover the laws related to driving without shoes. It may seem simple, but it’s a very commonly asked question.
Driving offences in Australia
Most citizens are well aware of the big no-no’s when it comes to driving. These include offences such as speeding, running a red light, or driving under the influence. However, there are situations where the law isn’t quite as clear. One important thing to note here is that all driving offences are known as ‘strict liability’ offences. This means that regardless of whether or not you intended to commit the offence, you are still guilty in the eyes of law for the act of simply doing it.
This is why it’s always important to know the laws when it comes to driving, because claiming that you didn’t know that you were committing an offence won’t hold up in Court.
Enforcing The Law
Since 2018, deaths on the road have increased by 4.6%. In 2019, 1,085 people died. Lawmakers and police enforcement have since taken on a more active role in preventing the frequency of road accidents. This includes sanctioning drivers who wear, use or have items which can distract them whilst driving.
No Australian states or territories have outlawed wearing inappropriate footwear while driving. However, rule 297 of the Australian Road Rules 2008 provides that the driver must still take all precautions to drive in the safest manner possible. If an accident does occur, further investigations relating to whether or not the driver’s footwear (or lack of) played a role will take place.
Guilty parties may end up paying a substantial fine along with the loss of demerit points. Depending on the severity of the accident, more serious penalties may apply.
Driving without shoes
Whatever situation it may be, when driving you must be focused and sober with as little to distract you as possible. There is no law itself stating that appropriate footwear must be worn, but you can still get into trouble. Let’s see how below.
Say you were driving wearing thongs. This isn’t a problem in and of itself, however the strap on your right thong is broken. The strap got caught on your brake pedal just as you were coming to a stop at a set of traffic lights. However, you were not able to slow down in time due to the interference caused by the broken strap on your shoe. You hit the car in front, resulting in a four car pile up. The police decide to investigate the cause of this accident, as two people are hospitalised with neck injuries. The police find that you were at fault, and further, that it was your broken thong which caused the accident. You are fined a hefty amount and your driver’s licence ends up being suspended for three months.
What should I do?
If driving with shoes such as thongs increases risk due to the straps’s ability to catch on the pedal then it’s a good idea to change them. The same applies for using the vehicle without shoes. Although this will depend on one’s control of their vehicle in such a situation. For example, if a driver feels that operating a vehicle with certain shoes poses a threat, driving without shoes is actually advisable. Shoes such as stilettos, steel-toed work boots and certain flats may inhibit one’s control over a vehicle. This presents a good case for driving without shoes.
Ultimately, to avoid adding another factor as a consideration in incidents, wear proper shoes. You’d hate for inappropriate footwear to put you at fault in the event of a car accident. Inappropriate footwear or none at all can count as a factor in the event of a crash. If you’re ever charged with a similar offence, you can contact a specialist traffic lawyer to help you.
Dominic is the CEO of Lawpath, dedicating his days to making legal easier, faster and more accessible to businesses. Dominic is a recognised thought-leader in Australian legal disruption, and was recognised as a winner of the 2015 Australian Legal Innovation Index.