Leah Panapa: Beware of your footwear behind the wheel, jandal-lovers

Opinion 08/02/2019
Photo: Unsplash.

By Leah Panapa, Magic Nights host

OPINION: With nearly all of the country baking under a hot summer sun, covering up while trying to stay cool consists of a hat and any light clothing attire one can put on without being arrested for indecent exposure. But think about your footwear.

Jumping in the car, no matter what the season, I have to have my feet covered. Sure, I can tolerate jandals - but driving barefoot feels just plain wrong.

But I learned this week that many of my listeners believe nothing is wrong with driving barefoot. In fact, a few listeners informed me that they curl their toes around the pedal for more grip. I'm shuddering just at the thought.

There is no law banning barefoot driving, or driving with jandals, but it is illegal to drive a vehicle 'in a manner which could cause injury to any person'.

Both the AA and NZ Police agree that jandals have no grip so there’s a risk the foot could slip moving between the accelerator and brake pedals. They recommend removing them whilst behind the wheel. In essence, bare feet is safer.

Meanwhile, UK drivers could have their insurance invalidated if it's proven that correct footwear wasn't worn during an accident. In a list of the most common misdemeanours made by motorists,  it was revealed wearing jandals (and high heels, by the way) was the easiest way to get your insurance written off.            

One of my callers said she loves driving barefoot as it gives her more awareness of the car and felt there was less chance of hitting the wrong pedal. A jandal-wearing listener said he nearly had an accident when he went to hit the brake and nothing happened because his jandal had somehow slipped under the pedal. Thankfully there was no traffic coming and he managed to kick off his jandal and regain control.

So even though it feels strange on my tootsies to drive without out any sole between me and the pedal, I will do that in the future instead of jandals. But remember wearing a decent pair of treaded shoes is still the safest option.

Leah Panapa is host of Magic Nights, weeknights from 7-11pm.