The rumor persists: driving a car barefoot or in flip-flops is forbidden. But is that really the law or can you drive home from the beach without extra shoes in your luggage?? We explain how it looks legally.
No legal flip-flop or barefoot ban
The most important fact beforehand: The German Road traffic regulations (StVO) does not make any regulations about suitable footwear for car drivers. High heels, slippers, rubber boots or even completely barefoot or only in socks – theoretically everything is allowed when driving a car. In a traffic control you do not have to fear a fine in this respect.
In 2006, the Bamberg Higher Regional Court (OLG) issued a landmark ruling in such a matter (AZ 2 Ss OWi 577/06). It decided that driving a car in socks was an increased traffic risk, but still does not justify a fine, as long as there is no accident.
Nevertheless it can bring problems and expensive if you are driven by summer mood with flip-flops or without shoes behind the wheel.
After flip-flop accident, ver-si-che-rungs-protection can partially expire
The aforementioned court order already hinted at it: Driving a car barefoot or with open shoes is only problem-free if nothing else happens in the process. However, if a traffic accident occurs, the car insurance can refuse payment in whole or in part. The motor vehicle liability insurance will cover damages caused to third parties.
Whether damage to your own car is also covered by comprehensive insurance is always checked individually. If it turns out that unsuitable footwear played a role in the accident and you could, for example, with solid shoes possibly still have braked in time, there is negligence. And this is excluded from many insurance policies.
Should third parties come to harm in a flip-flop-related accident, threatens the accident causer in the worst case even a criminal procedure. In any case a fine. Because the StVO says quite clearly in § 1 paragraph two that road users have to behave like this, "that no other person is harmed, endangered or hindered or inconvenienced more than is unavoidable under the circumstances." And driving without proper footwear can violate this general duty of care.
Good reasons against driving in flip-flops
Everyone who has ever driven a car without shoes or in flip-flops has to admit: it doesn’t really feel safe in most cases. This usually applies to high heels as well.
- One has less feeling for the pedals and can slip off more easily.
- Brake, clutch and accelerator can not be stepped on as hard as with sturdy shoes.
- If you drive with flip-flops or slippers, there is also the risk that you get caught in the floor mat or the pedals.
So it’s better to drive with your shoes firmly on your feet, even in high temperatures. It does not have to be thick leather shoes. A pair of light fabric sneakers will do just as well and can be stored in the trunk or under the passenger seat during the summer for emergencies.