Flip-flops can be lethal. Yes, that’s what I said. Lethal! Flip-flops can kill. I know. It almost killed my son. He was riding his bike and approached an intersection that was clearly marked: STOP! BIKERS AND WALKERS HAVE THE RIGHT OF WAY.
A woman driving an SUV slowed to a stop. My son started across the road when, suddenly, the driver accelerated and hit him broadside. He first landed on the hood of her car, bounced off, and fell into the street. If she hadn’t found the brake when she did…
How did this happen? The driver was wearing flip flops. Her foot slipped off the brake and onto the accelerator.
More and more accidents and near-accidents are being linked to uncontrolled acceleration or brake obstruction caused by flip flops sliding off drivers’ feet and getting stuck between or under floor pedals.
To cite a few cases: a woman in update New York recently lost control of her car and hit three pedestrians who were standing on a sidewalk. All three pedestrians died. According to police, the driver’s flip flops got tangled in the floor pedals, and she lost control of her car.
In 2010 a bicyclist was killed in Florida by a pickup truck after the driver’s flip flops got trapped between pedals.
In 2012 a truck driver wearing flip flops crashed through a store front and into the store. Fortunately, no one was killed. What happened? The driver’s flip flops jammed under the accelerator pedal.
In 2012 a bicyclist was struck and killed in Pittsburgh by a driver in a pick-up truck whose flip flops got trapped between floor pedals.
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that crashes due to pedal misapplication happen about fifteen times a month. That’s 180 times a year; however, the U.S. has done next-to-no research on accidents or near-accidents caused by flip flops. England has.
Sheila’s Wheels, a British insurance company, surveyed over 1,000 drivers and found that 60% (600) drove wearing flip-flops, of which one-third blamed their shoes for causing an accident or near-accident. From this data, the company extrapolated that flip flops were responsible for 1.4 million accidents or close calls a year.
What makes flip flops the devil’s driving shoe?
1. Flip flops get stuck under and between control pedals, leading to over-acceleration or slow brake application.
2. Thin, soft soles brake .13 seconds slower than closed shoes. At 60 MPH, .13 seconds equals 11 feet – possibly the difference between life and death.
3. It takes twice as much time to move between the gas and brake pedals when wearing flip flops than it does when wearing closed shoes.
Flip-flops cause more than car accidents. Of the estimated 11,000 people who were hurt riding escalators in the U.S. in 2012, approximately 10% were caused when hands and feet became trapped in the equipment.
In 2012 in Washington, D.C, a teenager’s flip flop got stuck in a metro escalator. When he reached down to retrieve his shoe, four fingers of one hand lodged in the stairs. It took emergency personnel 40 minutes to free him. He was one of the lucky ones. He kept his fingers…whereas, this woman …
…wasn’t so lucky when her flip flop had an argument with an escalator, and the escalator won.
And if all that doesn’t convince you to flip your flops into the nearest garbage can, consider these findings from the Academy of Podiatric Medicine. Flip flops offer no arch support, no heel cushioning, and no shock absorption; consequently, when worn for prolonged periods, they can cause tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, stress fractures, and micro-tears (as well as blisters and stubbed toes). Running or jumping when wearing flip flops often results in sprained ankles, fractures, and severe ligament injuries requiring surgery.
Twenty thousand Brits visit doctors every year because of foot problems, at a cost of 40 million British pounds. Many of these injuries and surgeries are blamed on long term wear of flip flops.
Flip flops are also a breeding place for Staphylococcus Aureus, a deadly germ that can invade your body and kill. One lab found 18,000 bacteria on a pair.
Unfortunately, there are no laws prohibiting drivers from wearing flip flops, although Departments of Motor Vehicles do warn that wearing inappropriate footwear (and bare feet) can be dangerous. But even if anti flip-flop laws were enacted, how could they be enforced? Despite laws against texting and talking while driving, I see dozens of people every day doing just that. The problem is there are too many offenders and not enough police. Furthermore, enforcing a flip flop law is impossible. You can see a driver’s hands and face through a car window but not their feet.
Idi Amin, the dictator of Uganda, may have had it right when he made wearing flip flops a criminal offense, punishable with death. Yeah, maybe that was a tad harsh, but I’m guessing it got the job done.
THE BOTTOM WHINE: If the shoe is fitted, wear it; if it isn’t, DON’T!
Whiningly yours, Carol