Behind the wheel in flip-flops and swimwear

Behind the wheel in flip-flops and swimwear

Can you drive barefoot? And what about flip-flops, high heels or rubber boots?? The legal situation is clear – you are allowed a, and yet the wrong footwear increases the risk of an accident.

The legislator does not make any precise regulations as to which shoes one may or may not wear when driving a car – nor does it say anything about whether one has to wear shoes at all. That means in return: It is not forbidden to drive with flipflops, socks, high heels, rubber boots or even barefoot. But if there is an accident, it becomes problematic, because under certain circumstances, this behavior can lead to the driver receiving a share of the blame in a court case – with the corresponding consequences.

Since the legislator does not comment in the Road Traffic Regulations (StVO) on whether and, if so, which shoes must be worn when driving, there is no threat of a fine or points if you drive with flip-flops or barefoot and this is noted by the police officers, for example, as part of a general traffic control. This has the higher regional court Celle in a judgement (Az. 322S s46/07) confirms. But if it comes to an accident, this can be different, as a ruling of the Bamberg Higher Regional Court (AZ: 2 Ss OWi 577/06) confirms.

If you are driving without shoes and are involved in an accident, you may be partially at fault because you did not exercise due care. This applies, for example, if the accident could have been prevented if the driver had been wearing (different) shoes. In this case you may face a fine. If others were injured in the accident, this can also have criminal consequences.

Insurance consequences

According to the German Insurance Association e.V. (GDV), automobile liability insurance pays the other party's damages regardless of the footwear worn – i.e., even if the accident was caused by the motorist's shoes. This would be the case, for example, if the car driver's flip-flops slipped off his foot and got caught between the accelerator and brake pedals, resulting in an accident.

If a motor vehicle driver causes an accident himself grossly negligently, an existing comprehensive insurance can refuse under circumstances the compensation for the accident damage at the own passenger car completely or partly. According to the GDV, however, the wearing of certain shoes while driving a car rarely means such a serious disregard of the usual care that this could be considered gross negligence. However, the comprehensive insurance can check the facts in each individual case.

These shoes are suitable

Shoes are suitable for driving if they are slip-resistant, so that they do not slip off the pedals, and sturdy enough to create a good frictional connection between the foot and the pedals. Anything that could get caught in the pedals or fairing, such as shoes with loops, is unsuitable, as are shoes that are so wide that you are pedaling two at a time. Tip: A pair of sports shoes in the trunk to put on in case of emergency is helpful and once you arrive at your destination, you can always change shoes.

By the way: Professional drivers must wear suitable footwear that encloses the foot if they drive professionally (Section 44, Paragraph 2 of the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV) Regulation 70). But these do not have to be work shoes. Sandals, for example, with heel straps around the heel or street shoes or sneakers are also permitted in this context.

Riding in your bathing suit and without anything

We have already mentioned the topic of shoes: There are no clothing regulations for driving a car. That means: Bikini or swimming trunks are no problem. Even if you drive completely naked, you won't get into trouble with the StVO, although secure shoes – as already mentioned – are still recommended in this case.

However, there may be trouble if the Adams or Eva costume is a nuisance to the general public. According to section 118 OWiG (Ordnungswidrigkeiten-Gesetz) "Harassment of the general public" is a misdemeanor and can lead to a fine. But it is more likely that the police will give you a ticket, for example if you park in a public place.

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