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Friday, January 11, 2013    

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THERE is no legislation that determines what footwear you are to drive in. However, wearing the right shoes could mean a safer, smoother, more-controlled driving experience.

For female drivers, this can sometimes prove to be a challenge; constantly having to juggle stilettos and flats while manoeuvring the pedals on given day.

According to Trescott Buchanan, driving instructor at Keys Driving School in St Andrew, the secret is in the comfort of the sole.

“When my students come in, I advise them to pick their comfort level and stick to it. I cannot dictate what a person’s comfort level may be. Some women have the ability to wear shoes with a slight heel and maintain proficient control of the vehicle, while others prefer to simply go barefoot, or change into flat shoes when on the road. Only rarely however, will someone come to class wearing a spike heels,” Buchanan told Auto.

“One thing I will firmly advise against is wearing flip-flops, because there’s no stability there and a number of things can go wrong, including the slippers getting caught under the pedals,” he advised.

Buchanan said since both accelerator and brake pedals are worked with the heel on the floor, wearing high-heeled shoes can prove to be perilous because the heel is elevated. The choice of footwear must allow the feet to feel the pressure needed by the pedals to achieve the desired braking or acceleration.

The sole should neither be too thick nor too thin. It should not be too soft or too flexible, and should have enough grip on the pedal to avoid slipping.

As far as female drivers are concerned, the footwear of choice varies.

Nicole Smythe-Johnson, assistant director at Blip Productions, has mastered the art of driving in stilettos. “People always say women are bad drivers, but I’m actually a really good driver. That is why I practise to drive in any kind of shoes, so no matter what, I’m always ready for the road,” said Smythe-Johnson.

At the other end of the spectrum, Claudette Rickards, insurance advisor at Guardian Life, is among female professionals who travel with pairs of shoes.

“I like to wear something flat and comfortable, with no heels or a low one so it doesn’t get caught under the pedal. This explains why I drive with about six pairs of shoes in my car. I like to wear heels, but I don’t like to drive in them. Also, driving in heels destroys the back of the shoe and gives them a tacky look,” Rickards told Auto.

Which shoe is best? The jury is still out.

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