I’m used to seeing barefoot driving stories and discussions from the perspective of living in the United States. Around here, everything seems to be colored by the fact that there are still, despite many articles debunking it over the years, a lot of people who believe that it is illegal to drive barefoot.
So, how are things different in a place like India?
Here’s a link to a discussion about it. Note that the discussion started about 5 years ago. There have still been some recent additions, though.
It starts with a new driver in Bangalore who just cannot get used to driving while wearing shoes. He wants to know if driving with shoes gets easier with time.
Unsurprisingly, the advice he gets runs the spectrum. But nowhere is there the suggestion that it might be illegal.
However, there are the blanket statements from people who only know one way, and assume that that is the only way.
For instance, one person says:
Just buy better pair of shoes.
It’s as if the problem with driving with shoes is that it is just a particular shoe, not shoes in general.
One thing I found quite interesting is that many of the drivers learned how to drive barefoot, and their instructors insisted on it:
I bet you learnt driving from a driving school. When I learnt driving 14 years back, my stupid driving instructor insisted that I drive bare foot. I was too reluctant but then had to give in. I have to admit it was quite a good experience to drive with bare foot. I felt absolutely at control without shoes and when I started driving on my own I couldnt get over it. It was an arduous task to keep removing foot wear everytime I drove and put them back on when getting down. Finally I vowed that I would get over it. I tried wearing shoes and buckled foot wear like our Bata Quovadis and believe me, within a week got over the habit of shoeless driving…
It’s a shame that he felt he had to change, though. I guess the idea of just going barefoot more everywhere didn’t occur to him. Of course, when there is pressure to be “civilized”, shoes seem to become required (even when there really any reason for them not to be).
One person suggested that using a clutch for any length of time would get difficult barefooted. I never had that problem myself.
There is a good warning about driving with slippers. (In India, slippers often refer to slip-on sandals, like flip-flops.) You don’t want them getting caught in the pedals. There are also good warnings about, if they are taken off, making sure they are put far away from any pedal so they don’t get underneath and underfoot.
One odd problem, I thought, was what do to when arriving at valet parking:
Bare foot driver on my m800. I can never get it right with my shoes. Ive tried sandals .. its kinda improving but too used to driving with my bare foot. The scene gets worse when it comes to Valet parking. those guys keep staring at me till i get my shoes on…. and the driver take it to park
We also see stories of shoes getting stuck in the pedals, particularly if they are somewhat wide. (I get the impression that in Indian cars the pedals are closer together that what we see around here.)
I fully agree with the need for shoes that are of appropriate size and grip. In my Santro, I cannot afford to wear shoes that are too wide because the “dead pedal”, which is a foot rest, is annoyingly close to the clutch. I found that with wide shoes I often brushed the dead pedal while depressing the clutch, except when my foot came down dead straight and centred on the clutch pedal. That was sorted out by picking narrow shoes that hurt my left foot for a while, but are OK now.
There is also the weird assertion that tells me that a person’s lack of experience isn’t preventing them from making up crap. (The comment below was made by the same person who made the comment above problematic shoes!)
On the other hand, I strictly wear shoes while driving, no matter how short the distance. I consider driving with sandals/chappals or bare-foot driving to be a no-no. The soles of your feet could sweat and lead to loss of grip while applying brakes. Secondly you may hit the brakes at least partially with your toes at times, and if you are bare-foot, that could lead to insufficient pressure or even slippage in an emergency.
The soles of your feet could sweat and lose grip? Sorry, that just doesn’t happen. And regarding toes, I’ll sometimes brake with just my toes—no problem at all. (On the other hand, it may be that some Indian cars don’t have power brakes?)
And then there were those who just could not handle driving barefoot (I don’t know why.)
My wife while driving will always remove her slippers and drive barefoot. I used to ask her why and she said that she just can’t drive with her slippers on. I initially thought it to be strange and thought that this habit was specific to her, but; I found out that MANY people do the same.
I tried this way of driving, and to my surprise, I just couldn’t drive without my shoes/slippers on. Driving barefoot just had an eerie feel to it for me. Felt like I could not brake or accelerate..
Can’t figure out why..!!!
Anyways, it is an interesting read. You might take a peek at it when you get a chance.
[H/T: [asc] ]