How Soon Can I Drive After Breaking My Foot?

Feb 08, 2024
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Returning to driving is a concern after any foot injury, and it’s especially worrisome if you break your foot. There isn’t an easy, straightforward answer to how soon you can drive again, but these guidelines will give you a better understanding.

How soon you can drive after breaking your foot depends on many issues, which vary from one person to the next. The best approach is to work closely with your physician, learn about your recovery, discuss your driving needs, and ask for their professional recommendation.

Babak Kosari, DPM, FACFAS, collaborates with each person, creating treatment and rehabilitation plans that support healing so they can return to driving as quickly as possible.

Here, he explores six factors that determine when you can drive.

Legal considerations

There aren’t any laws against driving with a fractured foot. However, the law requires you to control your vehicle.

You could be charged with negligent or reckless driving if you have an accident while driving with a foot that lacks the strength, agility, and movement needed to control acceleration and brake quickly.

Be sure to check with your insurance provider. They may have policies determining when you can get behind the wheel with a broken foot.

Right- versus left-foot fracture

If you break your right foot, there’s no doubt about driving: You must wait until the bones heal and we remove your cast or walking boot. That typically takes 6-8 weeks.

Even after the cast is off, you may still be unable to drive right away. When your foot is immobilized, the muscles and bones start to waste away and weaken. You may only be able to drive once you have physical therapy to restore strength and the full range of motion.

A left-foot fracture may not prevent you from driving if you can get your broken foot comfortably into the car and it doesn’t get in the way of using your right foot to drive.

But there is an exception: You can’t drive until your left foot heals if your car has a manual transmission.

Pain, medication, and mental focus

Beyond the mechanical challenges of driving with a cast or walking boot, you should also consider your foot pain and mental focus.

If you need surgery to realign and stabilize the fractured bone, you may need medication to relieve your pain. It’s not safe to drive when taking pain medications because they make your brain sluggish and slow your reaction time.

With or without medication, you may discover that your foot pain increases while driving. As a general guideline, you should always avoid activities that cause pain when healing from a broken foot.  

Pain also dulls your reaction time and diverts your attention, putting you at risk of having an accident.

Type of fracture

The type and severity of your fracture determine whether you need surgery, the type of immobilization, and the extent of your rehabilitation. The more severe the break, the more likely you won’t be able to drive until you’re fully rehabilitated.

Nerve damage

It may take longer to return to driving if your fracture affected any nerves. Damaged nerves may cause tingling, pain, or numbness, or affect muscle movement. You may not be able to drive until these issues improve.

Healing variables

The time to heal from a broken foot also varies, and healing time factors into when you can drive again.  

What affects healing time? Your recovery can accelerate or slow to a crawl depending on your age, overall health, diet (you need enough calories, protein, and nutrients to heal), and how well you stick with your recovery plan.

Even worse than slow healing, your bones may not fully heal if you follow self-care guidelines. For example, if we recommend resting and staying off your foot and you spend too much time walking, the bones may fail to heal. 

Connect with Babak Kosari, DPM, if you have questions or want to learn how long you may need to avoid driving with a broken foot. Call the nearest office in Northridge or Santa Clarita, California, today or request an appointment online.