Settle It: Wellies & wet weather, am I legal to drive?

Am I breaking the law if I wear wellies while driving? Birchall Blackburn Law investigates

You’ve promised you’ll go on a countryside adventure with the kids and lo and behold – it’s raining again. Not to worry, you’ve got your wellies on and you’re ready to go…but there’s just one problem. Is it illegal for me to drive with wellies on – and what about all the mud and water on my pedals?

 

Believe it or not, the appropriate driving footwear is a contested subject amongst many different drivers. With lives to lead and weather very much unpredictable, many people find themselves caught out when it comes to getting behind the wheel and are left asking – am I breaking the law if I wear wellies? And when it comes to the conditions by my feet, is it illegal to keep my pedals wet or muddy?

 

The statistics

It seems that, despite the obvious dangers of driving in compromising footwear and letting pedals become dangerously slippy, drivers continue to run the risks.

13% of drivers have actually confessed to stalling their car because their shoes have made it difficult to drive and over the years, multiple accidents have occured because of footwear mishaps – from UGG boots sliding under clutch pedals, to muddy or wet pedals proving too slippy to control properly.

UK road safety and breakdown recovery organisation GEM Motoring Assist said many drivers – particularly women – were worried about keeping their feet warm during these cold and wet spells, leading to inappropriate footwear choices, and more and more road traffic accidents that could have been avoided.

Considering Britain is a nation of shoe hoarders (in a study by car insurance specialist 1ST Central, half of drivers keep shoes in their car), why are we not changing into the most appropriate pair out of the bunch in the back, before we actually set off?

 

Why is driving with inappropriate footwear and wet/muddy foot pedals dangerous?

There are a lot of reasons why your footwear and pedal condition can result in accidents and road traffic collisions that can otherwise be avoided. Here are a few:

  • Your feet are more at risk from slipping from pedals while they are wet/muddy
  • Some footwear doesn’t allow you to use the pedals in a correct manner and restricts your movement
  • The thick and chunky sole of wellies and similar footwear can make you use the pedals too aggressively and unintentionally engage in risky driving
  • Your shoe can become stuck to the pedals, causing lack of control
  • Mud and other debris can limit the movement of pedals and can result in an inability to stop your car at any given moment

 

Is it illegal to drive with wellies on and while my pedals are wet or muddy?

In a nutshell, no. There is no law that states what footwear you cannot wear while driving.

Although it is not illegal to drive in the UK in certain shoes like wellies, that doesn’t mean that you should.

The Highway Code strictly forbids drivers from wearing anything that can jeopardise the movement of your feet to safely work your vehicle:

Rule 97; before setting off behind the wheel, you should ensure that “clothing and footwear do not prevent you using the controls in the correct manner” (Gov.uk, The Highway Code, 2017).

The same goes for if your pedals are wet or muddy. Although there is no law that specifically dictates that you can not drive if your pedals are wet or muddy, you must use a reasonable degree of common sense to guarantee that your pedals condition will not affect your driving.

 

What shoes can I wear?

There are plenty of safe shoe choices that will not risk yours or another’s life out on the road.

According to the RAC, you should look out for footwear that:

  • Has a sole no thicker than 10mm…
  • … but the sole should not be too thin or soft
  • Provides enough grip to stop your foot slipping off the pedals
  • Is not too heavy
  • Does not limit ankle movement
  • Are narrow enough so that you don’t accidentally depress two pedals at once

 

How can I make my muddy or wet pedals safe for driving?

First of all, if they are the reason why your pedals are wet or muddy, change your shoes. It is best to start with dry and appropriate footwear to avoid adding any excess water, mud or debris to your foot pedals during your journey. Next, while your engine is off and you vehicle is stationary and in a safe place:

  • Dry your pedals with a towel
  • Make sure there is nothing blocking the movement of your pedals underneath them
  • Dry your vehicle floor that is around the pedals and any mats that you may have
  • Make sure that your mat does not move and ruck up to cover your pedals
  • Keep a spare pair of shoes in your car for future use (a pair that ticks all of the above requirements, of course).

 

Always keep a towel in your car for any future situations. Even a 2 minute walk to your car in wet weather can result in a risky drive if your shoes aren’t properly dry.


So next time you head out on an adventure in the not-so-glorious weather, or if the heavens have opened before your commute to work; be prepared. The Great British weather is unpredictable and it only takes one mistake to change the course of your future forever.

 

We’re proud to be working with the road safety charity Brake on their campaign for safer roads. For more information and for specialist advice on road traffic accidents, click here.