Road safety: If you drive in high heels, read this

High heels are questionable for your health most of the time, but when it comes to driving, wearing high heels is dangerous. Whether you’re wearing stilettos, platforms or wedges, high heels are one the worst choices for driving. 

“South Africa doesn’t have any laws regarding footwear – or the lack of footwear – for driving,” points out Barend Smit, Marketing Director of MotorHappy, a supplier of motor management solutions and car insurance options. “However, in some European countries there are rules that pertain to specific footwear. In Spain it’s illegal to drive with flip flops or high heels; in Germany it’s illegal to drive with flip flops.”

“When choosing footwear for driving, consider whether or not your choice of shoe allows you to have full control of your vehicle. If a child was to suddenly run out into the road, would you be able to stop suddenly?”

Because of foot positioning, high heels reduce the amount of control you have in an emergency, making it difficult to slam on brakes. To have good control of the pedals, the heel of your foot should rest on the floor of the vehicle. If you’re wearing a long, thin heel, you’re effectively balancing on the heel of the shoe, and the heel of your foot is elevated. This is a very small, unstable point of contact with the floor of the car, and it can easily slip out of place if you apply the brakes sharply. Your heel could also get caught in the floor mat or even slip under the pedals. 

Many high heels also have pointy, narrow toes with a slippery sole, making it even more difficult to apply pressure on the pedal.

Platforms and wedges are also problematic because the thicker sole means your foot is further away from the peddle, and you risk pressing two pedals at the same time, or not applying the right amount of pressure. 

Shoes with thin soles and good grip are best for driving, because they won’t slip off the pedals and you have a better connection between your foot and the car. 

“If you’re a big fan of high heels, rather keep a pair of sensible flats in your car for driving and change into your heels when you reach your destination. Don’t be tempted to drive barefoot because that’s just as dangerous as driving with heels on,” advises Smit. “Put road safety before fashion, and give yourself the best chance by being properly prepared for anything that might happen on the roads.”