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Can the right footwear keep you safer behind the wheel?

Summer in Mississippi means wearing as little as you can get away with. For many people, that means living in flip-flops.

While these may be the preferred footwear for hot, muggy Mississippi summers, driving in them can be dangerous. They shift around on your feet and can easily slip off. Even if they don't become lodged under the gas or brake pedal, you're left driving barefoot, which isn't safe. Further, if you're searching around for them on the floor, you're not paying attention to the road.

Flip-flops aren't the only dangerous choice of driving footwear. Shoes that have stiletto heels are not meant for driving (or walking, one could argue). The tall, thin heels don't let you apply the pressure needed to properly operate your gas, brake or other pedals. Further, they place your feet at an unnatural angle.

Although dress pumps may be a less hazardous form of women's footwear than stilettos, they still aren't good for driving. The soles aren't sturdy and don't let your feet grip the pedals.

You might think that work boots are a good choice for driving. However, heavy shoes and boots, including those with chunky platform heels, can cause you to put too much pressure on the pedals. This can result in speeding, accelerating or braking too quickly. Heavy footwear also restricts ankle and foot movement, which impairs your ability to maneuver.

So what's the best footwear for driving? It should be lightweight enough to allow a range of ankle movement without not slipping off. However, the soles should be sturdy enough to apply necessary pressure to the pedals.

If this kind of footwear isn't appropriate for where you're going (whether it's a gala or a day at a construction site), keep a pair of "driving" shoes in your vehicle to change in and out of. Just be sure not to have loose shoes on the floor of your car where they can slip under a pedal or floor mat. Keep them in the trunk, the back seat or a compartment.

By wearing the proper shoes, you can better react to unforeseen situations and perhaps prevent a crash. However, nothing guarantees protection from a run-in with a distracted, negligent, drunk or reckless driver. If you or a loved one is injured in a crash, determine what your legal options are for seeking the compensation you need to get your life back on track.

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