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What not to wear behind the wheel

  • What not to wear behind the wheel

Driving in Style and Safety

Ever thought carefully about what to wear behind the wheel? You may not have considered that your outfit might affect your driving, but believe it or not, certain items of clothing can not only be hazardous, but they land you in hot water too...  

What does the Highway Code say?

Whilst not legally binding as such, and therefore advisory only, the Highway Code exists to promote safe driving that protects drivers, occupants of cars in general, other road users, and pedestrians. It can actually be used as evidence in any court proceeding under the UK Traffic Act

If you’re not familiar with rule 97 of the Highway Code, it’s time to get acquainted; it refers directly to clothing. It states that you should ensure that ‘clothing and footwear do not prevent you using the controls in the correct manner.’ 

Here are some examples of what not to wear… 

1. Flip-flops, high heels, and slippers 

These are quite the different styles, but they’re all united in their unsuitability for being driven in. Any footwear that could affect your interaction with the pedals is a no-no - inappropriate shoes can get caught under the pedals, slip off them, or get caught between your feet. When you’re trying to brake, this is hardly ideal! 

2. Nothing on your feet

From one extreme to the other; wearing no shoes at all can prevent safe driving, because you can’t exert the necessary force on your car’s pedals with bare feet like you can with shoes on. Even if you’re heading to the beach, you need appropriate shoes on to get there and back.  

3. Dark sunglasses 

As it turns out, there’s a fine line between shades that are too dark and therefore inappropriate to drive in, and your sight being impaired by bright sunlight and not wearing sunglasses to combat it! Either could see you fined, so it’s important to make sure your sunnies provide the right level of protection against the sun, but not so much that it affects how much you can see. 

4. Long baggy clothing 

It’s one thing to cover up, but it’s another to cover your car’s pedals with garments such as baggy jeans and maxi dresses. There can’t be any momentary hesitation caused by clothing getting caught - you need to be able to brake and change gear safely without hindrance. 

5. A bulky coat 

We’re used to cold weather here in the UK, and most of us have got that trusty winter coat on hand for those extra chilly days - but are you wearing it in the car? If you are, you need to make sure that you can still see safely over your shoulder when checking your blind spot or reversing. 

If you’re pairing it with gloves, they need to be the sort that won’t interfere with you changing gear or using the steering wheel as you should do. 

What are the consequences of driving in inappropriate clothing? 

Whilst, as we mentioned, the Highway Code is largely advisory, if your clothing is found to cause careless driving, you could face an on-the-spot fine of £100, plus three penalty points on your licence - it’s serious stuff. In some cases, if things progress to court you could be facing an increased fine of £5,000. 

If your clothing led to an incident of dangerous driving, you could also expect nine penalty points on your licence or be banned from driving altogether.