Is It Legal To Drive Barefoot In Australia?

Is It Legal To Drive Barefoot In Australia?
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When you’re wearing impractical shoes to go out or when you want to duck out to the local shops quickly, it’s tempting to drive without shoes on. Wearing thong or high heels while driving can be dangerous so the next best option is to just take them off and drive sans shoes. But is it legal to drive without shoes in Australia? Let’s find out.

While there is no particular law that prohibits driving without shoes explicitly, whether you have the appropriate footwear on will matter if you get into an accident.

According to LawPath, a provider of legal provider of legal services for small to medium businesses:

“All ten Australian states and territories agree with no exact statement outlawing the use of inappropriate footwear while driving. Under Australian Road Rules 2008, rule 297, the driver must still take all precautions to drive in the safest manner possible. If in the unfortunate event that an accident does occur further investigations will be taken to inquire whether or not the driver’s footwear (or lack of) played a role in the cause of the accident.

“Those who are found guilty can be sentenced to pay a substantial fine along with the possibility of further punishment – depending on the severity of the damage. “

To avoid this situation in the first place, it’s best to stick with footwear that you’re comfortable in and that won’t inhibit your ability to drive. The legalities aside, driving without shoes on can be a safety hazard.

While some drivers may find it easier to go barefoot, according to cars website Wheels24, doing so can pose the following risks:

  • The clutch may require heavy pressure to be applied especially if it’s an older car.
  • Cars that have smaller pedals require drivers to exert a lot of pressure on the ball of their foot. The sole of a shoe distributes pressure evenly.
  • Repeated use of the clutch could end up being painful, causing cramp or other spasms in the foot and reducing the ability of the driver to effectively appropriate a vehicle.
  • Operating pedals with wet feet is dangerous as pedals can become slippery.
  • Nylon socks or tights can reduce traction between your foot and the pedals.
  • Your foot could slip off the pedal due to insufficient grip.
  • In the unfortunate event of a crash, appropriate driving shoes are likely to offer a reduction in foot injury. In cases of traffic crashes you may tread on broken glass and debris and sustain major injuries.

A good idea is to keep a pair of appropriate shoes in the car that you can easy slip on before you head off.

This story has been updated since its original publication.


  • While I don’t do it often, I feel much more in control when I drive bare foot. Much more tactile feedback than shoes making it easier to make subtle changes in pressure.

    • Really? I feel much less in control; it doesn’t have the same flat pressure of the sole of a shoe. I’ve only ever really driven barefoot to put the car away tho (sometimes park it outside the garage to take shopping in, then back the car into the garage at a later time, shoeless).

  • All ten Australian states and territories

    This is a bit of a side question but there’s only 6 states and 2 territories in Australia. What are the extra 2 states/territories they are referring to here?

    It’s an honest question.

      • Caveat: I am not a lawyer.

        So looking through those:
        * The Ashmore and Cartier islands have a population of zero. I suppose technically they still have road rules but they presumably don’t have roads.
        * I’m guessing there are no cars as such in the Australian Antarctic Territory. Presumably they have snowmobiles of some kind, and there may be laws regarding their use. Driving them barefoot would be an invitation to frostbite so mind-bogglingly unwise there is probably no need to regulate it.
        * The Coral Sea Islands have a population of 4, the crew of a meteorological station. They have no roads nor any space for them and I assume no car.
        * Heard and Macdonald Islands also have a population of zero.

        So the places where driving laws are relevant are the ACT, NT, Norfolk Island, Christmas, Cocos (Keeling) and Jervis Bay. (I never realised Jervis Bay was a territory of its own, rather than part of the ACT.) I think the last three follow ACT law but maybe not ACT self-government regulations? Norfolk Island is a dog’s breakfast at the moment legally.

        Anyway, my count is 12 territories that have cars.

      • Yeah…

        I mean I’m not about to argue with law experts but this is rather perplexing.

        The only explanation I can come up with is that they are using the standard 6 states: NSW, QLD, VIC, TAS, SA and WA – and the 2 territories: ACT and NT, and treating Norfolk Island and the other external territories as 2 additional, separate territories.

        I don’t really understand why though.

  • Most of the shoes I’ve had are _far_ far more likely to slip off the pedals than my bare feet. _Especially_ when wet. The wet feet argument doesn’t hold because wet shoes are absolutely worse.
    Socks are a definite no no, they are explicitly slippery. And thongs are irresponsible, they are worse than socks in that they can go in any direction at any time and you have almost no control.

    I do have to agree with the “older cars” issue list though… I had an old manual station wagon that required a lot of pressure on the pedals and it _was_ hard on the feet.
    Newer cars are hyper-sensitive though and, as someone said above, you get a lot _more_ feedback and control with bare feet or very thin shoes.

    To some extent I think that a lot of the shoes people just wear automatically without thinking about the issues are a lot more dangerous than those of us who have considered things and _decided_ on bare feet.

  • The link provided goes to the South Australia – Australian Road Rules Variation Rules 2008
    of which does not provide any details about the use of footwear

    87—Variation of rule 297—Driver to have proper control of a vehicle etc
    (1) Rule 297—after subrule (1) insert:
    (1A) A driver must not drive a vehicle if a person or an animal is in the
    driver’s lap.
    Offence provision.
    (2) Rule 297—after subrule (2), including the note, insert:
    (3) The rider of a motor bike must not ride with an animal on the petrol
    tank of the motor bike.
    Offence provision.
    Motor bike is defined in the dictionary.
    (4) Subrule (3) does not apply to a person who rides with an animal on
    the petrol tank of a motor bike for a distance of not more than
    500 metres on a road for the purposes of a farming activity that the
    person is carrying out.

  • An ‘expert opinion’ from LawPath and Wheels24 means nothing without recommending good and/or not good what to wear on the feet for driving a vehicle.
    Barefoot or soft moccasins only, there is much less feeling through a shoe or thick, heavy boot sole. Flip-flops (thongs can be misread) can be cumbersome and dangerous, and I see females wearing high heeled winter boots when in the drivers seat …..should be ILLEGAL.
    In an automatic-geared vehicle, barefoot and left foot braking for me … saves milliseconds instead of ‘dancing feet’ when emergency braking. (no, the brake pedal is NOT a depressed footrest wearing out the brake pads)

      • Misread though in many other countries by those who are interested in Lifehacker, as is a friend in the UK and cousins in New Zealand.
        In Australia a ‘thong’ is also is a skimpy article of underwear for males and females.

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