Flip flops may seem harmless enough, but it turns out the summer footwear favourite can have a detrimental effect on your driving.
Fortunately for those fond of baring their toes, female car insurance specialist Sheilas’ Wheels has come up with a a concept add-on for flip flops designed to maintain driveability while ensuring you look stylish and remain cool when the sun comes out.
The specially designed flip flops straps are meant to provide extra support around the heel and improve stability on the pedals, making any pair of the summer shoes more akin to a pair of trainers.
But are flip flops so dangerous they warrant such add-ons? According to research by the University of Leeds, yes. During a simulator study completed by twelve drivers, flip flops were found to impair movement between the brake and accelerator pedals by a tenth of a second.
The research also found flip flops decreased braking power by 3 per cent. That may sound trivial, but the increased time it takes to activate the brakes combined with the reduced braking force could equate to drivers travelling an extra 7.5 metres (about three car lengths) when braking from 60mph.
Of the five summer footwear types on test, flip flops narrowly beat ‘bare feet’ as the footwear Brits find the most challenging to drive in. These were closely followed by wedge heels, espadrilles and then sandals.
According to the research 27 per cent of drivers admitted to a flip flop-related driving mishap. 11 per cent said their flip flops got stuck under a pedal and seven per cent blamed them for an accident or a near-miss. One in five said their footwear was never a consideration. Worryingly, one in five drivers repeatedly wear the shoes that caused a near-miss or accident.
Interestingly, women were three times more likely to carry a pair of driving shoes in the car, although one in ten women did admit to driving in shoes they struggled to walk in.
“It’s worrying that so many drivers out there do not realise the impact their footwear choices can have on their safety at the wheel,” Jacky Brown of Sheila Wheels’ commented. “Millions may think they can drive safely but may not realise the shortcomings of the flip-flop until it’s too late – putting themselves, their passengers and other drivers at risk every time they get in the car.”
“Our Sheilas’ shoe design could provide drivers with the ultimate fashion accessory for the car and handbag this summer – allowing women to be both stylish and safe whilst driving,” she added.
At the moment the safety accessory is merely a concept design, so you are best off just switching your shoes when driving in the meantime.