How to Choose Your Driving Shoes
- appropriate level of sole thickness in order for the driver to feel the proper amount of pedal pressure
- non-slippery sole when wet
- maintain the heel suspended in order to improve acceleration/brake pedal control
First of all, we'd like to state that finding the perfect driving shoes should not be regarded as an extra-something to improve your driving but a necessity to keep you ready and prepared for anything that could happen while in traffic. We all know that the difference between 'That was close!' and 'Oh, my God!' is often measured by hundreds of a second, and that's where the footwear factor comes into play. If shoed properly, you can improve your reaction time whether it involves braking, changing gears or accelerating. Keeping an extra pair of driving shoes in your car would also easily resolve the dilemma of having to build your entire wardrobe based on only one type of shoes.
The first thing you have to keep in mind when buying driving shoes is make sure they have a rather thin sole. This is important because it provides you with the best pedal pressure when braking or accelerating. If the sole is too thick, you will have a hard time feeling the pedals while also putting a lot of pressure on your ankles. Thicker sole usually means more weight and that causes difficulties when it comes to maintaining a relaxed ankle or insuring easier sudden movements.
Also, the sole shouldn't be too wide as it can cause your foot to touch two pedals at the same time. Of course you want the largest foot-pedal contact area available for easier pressure coming from your foot, but this should not evolve in a two-pedal-touch effort. Also, the sole must have a good grip on both normal and rainy conditions so it doesn't slip. The best way to prevent slippery is to wipe your feet before entering the car, no matter the level of grip provided by your shoes.
One could argue that driving barefoot is the best way to go. One argument would be that it helps you achieve the best possible pedal pressure. On the downside though – and there are plenty of arguments here – on long-distance drives the foot tends to get sweaty and can easily slip off the pedal, increasing the possibility of ankle or foot injury (not to mention losing control of your car).
In order for the driver to sustain the proper action on both the brake and acceleration pedal (also clutch for manual-transmission cars), the driver's heel must always sit on the floor. That brings us to high-heel shoes. We're sure that this type of footwear fits beautifully with the business/elegant woman look, but when it comes to driving a car they are to be avoided. The high-heel interferes with driver's logical operation of the pedals, becoming a major impediment to feeling the necessary pressure (as the driver's heel is suspended during the entire drive).
Boots are also to be overlooked when driving a car, as they tend to be quite heavy on the foot and could get stuck underneath the pedals when gear-changing. Flip-flops are also considered one of the worst choices for a 'driving gear', as well as sandals or think-sole shoes. All these types of footwear were proved to be rather hazardous and caused a significant amount of light accidents in heavy traffic.
Basically, your best solutions for a good control over the pedals are the classic sports shoes (they say that the maximum sole thickness should not exceed 10 mm, but our suggestion is to make sure it stays under 4 mm) or plain shoes. The latter provide a great foot-pedal contact area as long as their width is kept under reasonable dimensions.