Can you drive barefoot in NSW (New South Wales)? Australia has strict driving rules because the government aims to decrease road fatalities by deterring dangerous driving behaviours like speeding, drink driving, and distracted driving.
What footwear you choose to wear may depend on where you’re going. However, this footwear may not be appropriate for the drive! Wearing thongs, stilettos, high heel shoes or any other footwear that may make it difficult to use the foot pedals, is a bad idea.
Can You Drive Barefoot in NSW: Legality
Generally, the answer to the question “Can you drive barefoot in NSW?” can be yes because as of the date of this article, there is no specific law in New South Wales about barefoot driving in the state.
However, the NSW Road Rules may answer the question “Can you drive barefoot in NSW?” in a different manner. The law may impose the violation of driving without sufficient control of a vehicle under Rule 297 of the Road Rules 2014 if a car accident occurs and the cause of the accident is unsuitable or absent footwear.
Rule 297 states that:
- A driver must not drive a vehicle unless the driver has proper control of the vehicle.
- A driver must not drive a vehicle if a person or an animal is in the driver’s lap.
- A driver must not drive a motor vehicle unless the driver has a clear view of the road, and traffic, ahead, behind, and to each side of the driver.
The maximum penalty for violation of any of these rules is 20 penalty units.
Driving barefoot falls under the first rule. If you don’t wear shoes, it impairs your control (e.g., slipping off pedals), you could be fined $464 and lose 4 demerit points. However, officers can use their judgment to determine if your footwear (or lack thereof) affects your driving ability. If they believe it does, they can penalise you under Rule 297(1).
Although there is no specific law regarding this concern, learner drivers must wear proper footwear during their driving lessons and tests. Moreover, for commercial vehicles, some employers or insurance companies may have specific policies regarding footwear for drivers of such vehicles. Thus, it is important to comply with these policies.
Can You Drive Barefoot in NSW: Proper Control of the Vehicle
As mentioned earlier, a driver must maintain proper control of the vehicle. What does proper control mean? Here are some key elements:
- Check your driving posture.
- Sit upright with back and shoulders supported by the seat.
- Adjust seat height for a clear view of the road and comfortable pedal reach.
- Keep knees slightly bent and feet able to pivot on the pedals.
- Hold the steering wheel with both hands around the rim, thumbs on top.
- Adjust the headrest to support your head and neck.
- Controlling your speed.
- Always maintain a safe speed appropriate for the conditions and road rules.
- Adjust speed smoothly and gradually, avoiding sudden braking or acceleration.
- Allow sufficient space between your vehicle and others to react safely.
- Grip the steering wheel firmly but not too tightly.
- Keep hands on the wheel at all times, avoiding distractions.
- Make smooth, controlled turns, avoiding oversteering or understeering.
- Anticipate bends and curves in the road to adjust your steering accordingly.
- Use pedals effectively.
- Press the accelerator gently and steadily to increase speed.
- Apply the brake firmly and smoothly to slow down or stop.
- Use the clutch effectively when changing gears in a manual vehicle.
- Avoid resting your foot on the clutch or brake pedal while driving.
- Check visibility.
- Adjust mirrors for optimal rear and side views.
- Keep windows clean and clear of obstructions.
- Check blind spots before changing lanes or turning.
- Use headlights appropriately in low-light conditions.
- Eliminate distractions.
- Avoid using mobile phones or other electronic devices while driving.
- Minimise eating, drinking, or personal grooming while behind the wheel.
- Stay focused on the road and driving tasks.
- Impairment of senses and mental faculties.
- Never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Be aware of fatigue and take breaks when needed.
- Manage medical conditions that could affect driving ability.
Can You Drive Barefoot in NSW: Safety Concerns
Can you drive barefoot in NSW? Driving barefoot in NSW, while not explicitly illegal, comes with several safety concerns:
1. Reduced feel and control.
- Bare feet lack the sensitivity and grip that well-fitting shoes provide. This can hinder your ability to feel and precisely operate the pedals, particularly during sudden braking or acceleration, potentially leading to delayed reactions and increased stopping distances.
- Slippery conditions caused by sweat or moisture on your feet can further compromise your control over the pedals, especially if the car’s interior is hot or humid.
2. Distraction and discomfort.
- Loose objects like pebbles or broken glass on the floor might get lodged under your foot, causing discomfort or distraction, impacting your focus on the road.
- Hot asphalt or uncomfortable terrain encountered while stopping or exiting the car can be unpleasant for bare feet, possibly prompting sudden movements that could affect driving.
You must prioritise your safety and be aware of the potential risks of driving barefoot in NSW. You can also consider using alternative footwear for a safer and more comfortable driving experience.
Can You Drive Barefoot in NSW: Best Footwear for Driving
Choose appropriate footwear that ensures safety and control over the vehicle. Here are some recommendations for the best types of shoes to wear while driving in NSW:
- Sneakers, tennis shoes, or sand shoes provide a good balance of comfort, support, and flexibility while driving. They should be comfortable and offer good heel support.
- Hiking or trainer shoes can provide additional support and durability during long drives. They should have a rounded sole at the rear to help with heel support and pedal operation.
- Specialised driving shoes are designed with safety and functionality in mind. They often feature a thin, cushioned sole for better pedal control and feedback.
- Flat shoes can provide better foot control and are recommended by some drivers. However, you must ensure that the shoes maintain the ability to operate pedals efficiently.
Contact a Traffic Offence Lawyer
To answer the question “Can you drive barefoot in NSW?”, our traffic lawyers can tell you more about it.
Are you facing a traffic offence in New South Wales, South Australia, or consider hiring a traffic offence lawyer. Our experts at JB Solicitors can significantly impact the outcome of your case and save you time and potentially reduce long-term costs, such as fines and increased insurance premiums.
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