Is it Really Illegal to Drive Barefoot or Shirtless in New York?
With the weather warming up we're ready to roll down the window, crank up the tunes and hit the road. But what are the rules about driving without shoes or shirts?
Growing up I was always told that the law specifically says you cannot operate a vehicle unless you're wearing shoes or a shirt. Like many other things I was told as a kid, this stuck with me through my adult life and became something that I have always followed without question.
Flip-flops, from what I recall, were also specifically banned for drivers due to the danger of getting the sole caught under the brake pedal and causing a deadly crash. It makes perfect sense and is very good advice, but is it actually the law?
What the law in New York says:
New York State has a long list of very specific regulations that drivers must follow; many of which are ignored on a daily basis. For example, it's actually illegal to have any sticker or decal on your back window. Be warned, that stick figure family sitting on the rear of your car is an excuse for any police officer to pull you over and write up a ticket.
But when it comes to driving barefoot, there is actually no law on the books that prohibits the practice. However, that doesn't mean it's a good idea. Experts say that wearing shoes is important for drivers because they distribute your weight on the pedal as you apply pressure, making your movements more precise. Driving barefoot puts too much stress on the ball of your foot and can cause you to slip off the pedal, especially if your foot is wet. Anyone who's ever driven barefoot can attest to the fact that it just feels weird.
Wearing flip-flops is also allowed, but safety experts strongly discourage the practice. It turns out the advice I was given back in the day is pretty solid; flip-flops can slip off your foot, especially when suddenly braking.
What about driving topless?
Riding around without a shirt on is also technically legal for both men and women. However, there may be some exceptions to the rule.
While New York says it's perfectly ok to be topless in public whether you're a man or a woman, if your behavior at the time is distracting to other drivers or deemed to be sexual in nature you're going to get a ticket. Health experts also warn that driving shirtless could lead to serious sun exposure. so if you do decide to let it all hang out, make sure you're slathered with SPF15 or higher.
Just because something's legal doesn't mean it's a good idea. Before you decide to drive around barefoot or topless consider the risks. Taking a moment to lace up before getting behind the wheel could make a difference in safely getting you and your loved ones to that summer destination.
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