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  • Writer's pictureRobert Schuerger II

Is It Illegal to Drive Barefoot in Tennessee- and What Happens If You Do?

Driving with bare feet is something many people do when the sun is shining- or after a long day at work- but is driving barefoot illegal in Tennessee?

There are many rules and regulations that come into play when accidents happen- and knowing them could make a difference to a legal claim.

Below, the question is answered: what are the laws in Tennessee regarding barefoot driving?

Quick Answer: Is Barefoot Driving Illegal in Tennessee?

Quick Answer: Is Barefoot Driving Illegal in Tennessee?

In short, driving a motor vehicle barefoot is not illegal in Tennessee. That extends to driving a motorcycle barefoot- although it is not recommended for safety reasons. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can also answer questions such as, "What causes a high side motorcycle crash?"

There are, however, some local regulations that may make barefoot driving a breach of the rules- so drivers should check their area for any specific law regarding the topic.

Tennessee Law and Inappropriate Footwear

Although there is no law against driving barefoot or with certain types of footwear (or in any state, for that matter), there is still some ambiguity surrounding what people should wear- and what happens if they don't.

The following types of shoes are not considered appropriate footwear for driving in Tennessee because of the safety risk they pose.

Flip Flops

Flip flops make it harder to control the brake and gas pedals- and could be even more dangerous than driving barefoot. They can get stuck under the pedals and stop them from working properly- which could lead to disastrous accidents.

As many as one in 14 drivers say wearing flip flops either contributed to a crash or almost caused a crash- so they are best avoided.

High Heels

Wearing high heels affects the force with which a person can press the pedal. If they need to make an emergency stop, for example, a pedestrian walks into the road- or a car stops suddenly in front of them, they may not be able to push down hard enough to come to a halt quickly enough.

Shoes with Long Laces

Long or untied laces can get wrapped around the pedals and restrict movement. It can make driving safely more difficult by causing a distraction or making the driver's feet feel awkward or uncomfortable.

Large Boots

Heavy, clumpy boots are not easy to drive in- and are therefore deemed inappropriate footwear. Their weight can throw off foot pressure- leading to faster acceleration.

Most Open Toed Shoes

Generally speaking, closed-toed shoes are preferable for safe driving. Although some sensible open shoes do not create much of a risk, many others do.

Can Drivers be Held Liable for Driving Barefoot or While Wearing Shoes Deemed Inappropriate?

Although driving barefoot or while wearing inappropriate footwear is not against the law in Tennessee, it can be a contributing factor in an accident.

Liability in car accidents all comes down to negligence- a.k.a. failure to adequately perform the duty of care owed to other road users. If someone causes an accident because their footwear is inappropriate or non-existent, it could be seen as negligent driving.

In short, although driving barefoot is not a crime in itself, the act of causing an accident because of a danger one's actions created is- and therefore, drivers could be held liable.

Could It Play a Part in a Car Accident Compensation Claim?

If a person is accused of causing a car accident by careless or reckless driving and they are found to have had bare feet at the time, the victim is likely to have a stronger case. The decision to drive barefoot could also have an impact on car insurance costs.

It may be harder for someone to defend themselves against a claim if they were wearing shoes at the time that made it harder to drive safely- or had no shoes on at all. Footwear is unlikely to change the amount of compensation owed to a victim- but it could be a deciding factor in whether or not someone is legally at-fault.

The Dangers of Driving Barefoot

While driving barefoot may be enjoyable on some occasions, it is also potentially dangerous. This is a debated point by free-feet fans, but the facts are undeniable. Some of the dangerous factors of choosing not to wear shoes when driving are as follows.

  • It is harder to control the braking force if driving barefoot or in inappropriate footwear. The lack of weight or protection on someone's feet could make them break lighter than they intend to.

  • Bare feet (especially when wet) slip off pedals much easier than the sole of a shoe. In an emergency situation, the fast movement could cause the driver to lose foot-to-pedal contact altogether- rendering it impossible to brake effectively.

  • If an accident does occur, unprotected feet are more susceptible to injuries. Even if they don't cause the crash, they could suffer because of it.

  • Loose shoes such as flip flops or slip-on high heels can easily come off during a crash or evasive maneuver- making it harder to regain control of the vehicle.

It may not be illegal to drive barefoot, but that doesn't mean it is a good idea.

How Can a Lawyer Help?

In any car accident- shoes or not- an experienced Nashville automobile accident lawyer can help people understand their legal rights and what steps to take next.

Pursuing compensation from a negligent party's insurance company is complex and often taxing- but an attorney can step in and take the weight of the proceeding so that victims can focus on their recovery.

They also help to build a case to prove the fault- gathering all relevant evidence to support the claim. This could include the fact that the driver was not wearing shoes at the time of the accident. They can answer questions like, "What happens in Tennessee if you get in an accident without insurance?" as well.

Speak to Shuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys Today

If someone is involved in a car accident and believes the failure to wear proper footwear could be partially to blame, they should contact the legal warriors at Shuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys.

Any victims with a personal injury claim can count on these dedicated legal professionals to go to war for them in the pursuit of justice and fair compensation.


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