It’s perfectly legal, but safety fun sponge organisation Arrive Alive (despite the fact that I’ve never ever actually done anything else) say I shouldn’t.
They use arguments such as:
Driving long distances can be very demanding on our feet and ankles. By wearing the right shoes and leaving the feet feel relaxed, we can enhance the control we have over the vehicle and react faster to changes in traffic or road conditions!
(Apologies for the dodgy English in there: their words, not mine.)
Repeated use of the clutch could end up being painful, causing cramp or other spasms in the foot and reducing the ability of the driver towards effective control of the vehicle.
(I know, more problems with simple English.)
Oh, and (should the worst happen because of the reasons above):
In cases of traffic crashes with nothing to protect the feet, you may tread on broken glass and debris and sustain major injuries.
It’s all a bit pathetic. More on not overtaking on solid white lines, not driving drunk, not driving when tired, and not wandering along the hard shoulder in dark clothes on a dark night (it’s a real thing here), less on my selection (or not) of shoe, please.
If we were meant to wear shoes to do foot stuff in, why weren’t we born with shoes instead of bare feet? Why do gymnasts – for whom haptic contact with the floor or beam is essential for proprioception – not wear shoes when gymnasticking? It’s not just humans, either: the Norsk Lundehund, bred for its ability to traverse thin, slippery cliff edges, above dizzying, terrifying drops into the freezing Atlantic Ocean doesn’t wear shoes. Mind you, nor does it drive, but we’ll leave that minor issue out of our argument here.
I’m not a gymnast or a puffin hound, but I do drive barefoot a lot of the time, and I plan to continue doing so.
Travel safely these holidays.