Learning to Drive: A Guide to Driving Shoes
There is of course a lot to consider when learning to drive. Getting behind the wheel for the first time can be a little intimidating but with the right preparation and confidence there is nothing to fear.
Driving is a wonderful tool to acquire freedom and should absolutely be enjoyed. Considering one’s safety is crucial however, as is being comfortable while operating your vehicle. This is why choosing the right shoes should be a part of the checklist list for every driver -- new and old.
Making the correct decision here is important, there are indeed many dos and don’ts, which is why we have put together this handy learners guide to driving shoes.
Check your soles
The sole of the shoe in question is vitally important when selecting the right pair for driving. You will want to make sure that the shoes’ sole is neither too thick nor too thin. When driving you want the right balance of feel on the pedals and protection for your feet, so void anything overly cumbersome and any items that are too soft/flexible.
Making sure that your selected pair of shoes have enough grip is another key consideration. The last thing you want when taking to the open road -- especially in your early days -- is to not feel in control or secure. Finding a pair of shoes with the right amount of grip will therefore help you to avoid slipping on the pedals.
Lightweight to enable movement
When operating the pedals of your new Ford car you will want to be fast on your feet – or fast with your feet while sitting down that is. Being agile enough to move swiftly between the pedals is a safety assurance of the highest order. Therefore you will want to find shoes that are lightweight, and that don’t hinder ankle movement when working the pedals. The goal here is ease of movement; this should be reflected in your choice of shoe.
Avoid heels – good feel is key
In life most of us tend to go for fashion over function, and shoes tend to be some of our favourite accessories. There is nothing wrong with that but when driving you will do well to consider what is practical. For example, avoiding heels when getting behind the wheel, and soles that are over 10mm, will provide better touch and feel for your feet, ridding yourself of obstruction to operate pedals safely and properly.
A spokesman for Piloti UK, an expert retailer of driving shoes, spoke to us about this very issue, saying the following about the importance of feel on the pedals.
“Footwear can make a huge difference in the way we all drive in relation to safety. To ensure optimal pedal feel, your driving shoes should be thin soled, flexible but firm, well fitted with a closed toe and without a raised heel. No part of your footwear should be susceptible to catching or blocking the pedals and anything that stops the braking sensation and the vibrations on the clutch feeding through to your feet is a real hindrance!”
Say no to bare feet
This may sound obvious but you can never be too careful. While driving in bare feet will provide that optimum feel that we have previously mentioned, you are opening yourself up to the risk of injury while also denying yourself that much sought after grip. You may also lack the pressure needed on the pedals which is a whole other safety matter. Do yourself a favour and put some sensible shoes on.
Avoid overly wide shoes
Different cars have different pedal shapes, but these instruments of propulsion are always there so you will want to wear shoes that are not overly wide as to cause you to step on two pedals at once. This can have obvious negative repercussions that all drivers will want to avoid. So keep those clown shoes at home.
Pick up a pair designed for driving
You might be thinking to yourself that shoes are shoes and that all this fuss is for nothing, but driving shoes exist for a reason, and it is never a bad idea to go and grab yourself a pair. Traditionally these come in the form of driving moccasins; a light but sturdy shoe providing all the assets you will need while avoiding the hindrances previously mentioned.
The online retailer Hugs & Co – a company specialising in driving shoes – fully understand the merits that they can provide, and said the following to us about the shoe’s benefits.
“The construction of the driving shoe gives your foot better movement whilst driving. On a classic design the studded sole helps give the shoe more flex so that you get better control of the pedals, at the same time you also get the added grip from the studs”.
There are also more flamboyant variations of driving shoe available, depending on your price range, but picking up a pair of these can help to provide you with the confidence and assurances you need when starting your driving adventure.
Check your wardrobe
Forking out for a new pair of shoes can be a good option but not always practical or necessary. You never know, you might have an ideal set of footwear lying around the house or in the back of your wardrobe. While they might not be your top choice for hitting the town, they can serve a crucial function here. So have a look around for a nice sturdy pair of flats or appropriate trainers, they might be just what you need – just remember the information previously discussed.
Keep a pair handy
Of course driving is a form of transportation; you are using your car to get from where you are to somewhere else, and you might not want to be wearing your driving specific footwear when you get there. So it’s always a good idea to keep a pair of your favourite driving shoes stowed away in your car or bag. That way you can wear exactly what you want when outside of the vehicle, and avoid accidents on the road by changing out of those stylish but problematic heels or platforms.
When nipping down the shops, or running similar short distance errands – while still wanting to be safe – your comfort understandably might not be top of your agenda. But when embarking on longer drives and excursions, comfort is incredibly important. By wearing the correct footwear in these instances, you not only avoid aches and pains but help to keep yourself safe by avoiding silly mistakes which can happen while wearing uncomfortable shoes.
We spoke to Phil Marsh, the Managing Director of Chatham – a footwear retailer that understands the merits of driving shoes – about the importance of comfort and other accrued benefits.
“Whether you are on your feet all day or driving in your car, your choice of shoes really could not be more important. The wrong choice of shoes can result in discomfort, poor circulation and even limit your movement making it difficult to drive”.
Mr Marsh also touched on what to look out for, and how vital the correct driving shoes can be when travelling long distances.
“When you are searching for driving shoes look out for high quality leather, suede and a shoe that allows for ease of movement. If you are a learner or drive long distances, our recommendation would always be to look for a shoe that was made for driving, because they will be more lightweight and durable”.
This really is some top advice from Chatham. The benefits of acquiring a good pair of driving shoes are vast and they are numerous. So consider the advice above, consider what you are putting on your feet, and enjoy all the pleasures that driving can bring.