Is It Illegal to Drive Barefoot in South Africa in 2023?



Feet hanging out the window of a car.

Have you ever jumped in the driver’s seat barefoot? Maybe you’re running a quick errand, leaving the beach after a long day, or totally late for that coffee date with your friend. Hang on a second, though. Is it illegal to drive barefoot in South Africa in 2023?

Now, although it’s common knowledge that drinking and driving in South Africa is an absolute no-no, driving barefoot is actually not illegal. It’s what you would call a ‘grey area’ in South Africa’s traffic laws.

Let’s get into the details below. 

What Are the Laws on Driving Barefoot in South Africa?

There are no specific laws pertaining to driving barefoot in South Africa. In fact, very few countries do. So – it’s legal; it just isn’t recommended by safety experts and traffic officers. 

More specifically, although the National Road Act 93 of 1996 condemns driving recklessly or carelessly on public roads, it doesn’t say anything about not being able to drive barefoot. 

Two police officers standing amongst cars

What Are the Risks Associated With Driving Barefoot?

Some drivers do prefer to drive barefoot than with shoes because they feel as though it allows them more control over the clutch, therefore limiting stalling. 

However, experts warn that driving barefoot is associated with risks such as your foot slipping off the pedal due to a lack of grip. When controlling the pedals, your bare foot is also more likely to cramp or spasm, resulting in discomfort, pain, and lack of support. This is especially true when driving long distances. 

These risks will all reduce your ability to drive accurately and safely.

In the worst-case scenario that you get into a car accident, having appropriate footwear will likely reduce your chances of a serious foot injury. Even if your foot is not injured inside the vehicle, you may have to step outside onto broken glass or other harmful debris.  

Car accident with broken front bumper.

Risks Associated With Driving in Flip Flops

Flip flops can easily slip off the pedals, come off your foot, or get jammed on the brake and/or accelerator. Some safety experts believe they don’t provide adequate ankle support, so they hinder the driver’s ability to apply sufficient pressure to the brake, accelerator, and clutch. 

Overall, flip flops can lead to a reduction and distraction in safe driving that can result in an accident and/or injury. 

Risks Associated With Driving in High Heels and Platform Shoes

Technically speaking, in order to accurately brake, accelerate and control the clutch requires your heel to be on the floor. Wearing heels doesn’t allow your foot to rest at the right elevation and pedal position. 

This can lead to misjudgment when it comes to applying the right amount of pressure to the brake, clutch, or accelerator, possibly resulting in an accident and/or injury. 

Blonde lady in driver's seat driving a car.

What Are the Best Shoes for Driving?

Although it’s hard to speak for everyone, most safety experts say that flat running shoes or trainers are generally best for driving. These types of closed-toe, rubber-soled shoes allow you a better feel and grip of the pedals, enabling you to brake and accelerate more accurately. Plus, they’re super snug, allowing you the ultimate mobility and ease. 

Need some specific ideas? Luckily, the quest for the perfect driving shoe is not a new one! There are many types of shoes that are practical and safe (and comfy) for driving, such as New Balance trainers. 

Insurance and Driving Barefoot 

Okay, so driving without shoes is not illegal. However, if you are involved in a car accident that your bare feet contributed to, there is a good chance insurance will not cover you. This is due to the fact that there are known risks when it comes to driving barefoot. Check with your car insurance company for their Ts and Cs. 

Girl wearing yellow shoes on green grass.

Final Thoughts: Is Driving Barefoot Illegal in South Africa in 2023?

So, although driving barefoot in South Africa isn’t actually illegal (yet), it’s definitely not recommended.

Driving barefoot can lead to a number of increased safety risks that can result in either minor or serious accidents involving both you, the driver, and/or your passengers. These include reduced foot control, limited traction, and other unpredictable situations. 

It’s always a good idea to stay up to date on the most current traffic regulations, as these can change over time. Also, remember that certain rules may apply to different areas of South Africa. 

Whether you prefer to drive barefoot or with shoes, it’s essential to ensure that you have adequate insurance to cover you and your vehicle. The first step is to receive your online car insurance quote. 

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