Flip flop driving targeted in new safety campaign

Mayo's road safety officer is waging a new war but this time, instead of phone users, tired drivers, or speed demons, the target is the humble flip flop.

With summer on the horizon, Noel Gibbons from Mayo County Council is urging drivers not to flip out when the sun shows up but use caution instead when it comes to appropriate footwear behind the wheel.  

He said research from the UK has shown that flip flops are the most dangerous shoe to wear while driving as they can reduce the ability to brake suddenly in the event of an emergency.

And women are the worst offenders.

A UK report recently revealed that 80 per cent of female drivers wear inappropriate footwear when in control of a car, according to Mr Gibbons.

"That new pair of shoes you bought for the beach might look great, but you may want to rethink driving in them," he warned.

"Even a simple task like changing gears could cause a serious problem in the wrong type of shoes.   

"From high heels and flip-flops to platforms and boots, there are many footwear choices that can potentially contribute to the loss of control of your vehicle."

Ballinrobe based driving instructor Gerard Butler agrees.

"The Road Safety Authority requests test applicants to wear suitable footwear during the practical driving test," said Mr Butler. "Flip flops, beach sandals or other backless type footwear, or barefoot driving are not acceptable.

"I have had occasion where I had to refuse driving instruction to students because they were not wearing suitable footwear."

Mr Gibbons said flip flop wearers who cause an accident could even find themselves before the courts.

"While there is no law banning any particular footwear or going barefoot while driving in Ireland, if unsuitable footwear is deemed to contribute to any accident, it could leave people at more risk of a charge of dangerous driving or not paying due care and attention," he outlined.

A number of countries already take the issue very seriously.

Driving in flip flops is illegal in Germany, France and Spain among others and subject to on the spot fines.

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