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ARE parents really putting their best foot forward to set an example for young learner drivers?
Thongs have been put in the headlight with a survey revealing one quarter of learners admit to wearing the flipflop footwear when behind the wheel and this doubles for drivers with a probationary licence.
But 43 per cent of parents admit they too occasionally slap on thongs for driving.
Is this legal in Victoria? Yes, but if police deem inappropriate footwear has contributed to an accident or hazardous driving you could be in line for a traffic offence.
Driving experts still strongly warn against wearing thongs or going barefoot when driving in this state.
Goldfields Driving School instructor Gavin Jeffrey will not allow students in his car without appropriate footwear – even though a few have tried to get past him. Mr Jeffrey said thongs and high heels were not worth the risk.
He said learner and probationary drivers needed to concentrate to control their vehicle, more so than experienced drivers – the last thing they needed was to worry about footwear getting caught in the mat or pedals.
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“They just don’t have the same grip and your feet can easily slip out,” Mr Jeffrey said.
“With warmer weather coming on you might be more inclined to try wearing thongs. Just wear suitable footwear and as soon as you reach your destination, like the beach, swap into your thongs then.”
Mr Jeffrey also never wear thongs when instructing students because he too, needs the grip and control if needed to intercede.
RACV public policy general manager Brian Negus says drivers should make careful consideration.
“While there is no specific law prohibiting drivers from wearing thongs, they are not recommended,” Mr Negus said.
“It is however a requirement that a driver needs to have full control of their vehicle while driving and therefore they need to ensure that they are wearing appropriate footwear to do so.”
The study surveyed 800 Australians – 400 teenagers and 400 parents – for Ford Australia leading into summer 2015-16 as part of its young driver training program, according to News Limited.
It found 38 per cent of Queensland and NSW teenagers sometimes wore thongs compared to 34 per cent of young South Australian drivers. Victoria ranked third in thong-wearing drivers with 26 per cent.