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What are the dangers of a passenger’s feet on the dashboard?

August 24, 2017 by Steven M. Gursten

Just keep them on the floor. Feet on the dashboard may be comfy, but a car crash deploys the air bag at 200 mph, causing severe leg, facial and brain injuries

Feet on the Dashboard Air Bag

If you’re a front-seat passenger, keep your feet on the floor.

When you prop your feet up on a dashboard, you are putting yourself at terrible risk. Airbags deploy at nearly 200 mph of force. If an event occurs, such as a car crash, that airbag deploys in only a split-second. It will cause horrific injuries to your legs if your feet are resting on a dashboard.

As an auto accident attorney who has helped people injured severely in car crashes, you only need to see this happen once to understand how dangerous it is to have your feet on a dashboard. Modern cars are equipped with advanced safety systems like airbags that are designed to save lives injuries.

But they are designed to protect people sitting a certain way — with your feet on the car floor.

Woman claims ‘ignorance’ in having her feet on the dashboard

Audra Tatum, a Georgia mother of three, can attest. For years she refused to listen to her spouse’s warnings about sitting comfortably with her feet on the dashboard. She told CBS news recently:

“All my life I had my legs crossed and my foot on the dash. My husband always told me, ‘You’re going to get in a wreck someday, and you’re going to break your legs.’”

Then, in August 2015, the two of them got into a T-bone collision 4 miles from their home. While everyone else walked away with scrapes and bruises, Tatum’s ankle, femur and arm were shattered by the impact of her air bag. Her foot shot up, breaking her nose.

Several surgeries followed. She had to give up her career as an EMS, as she can’t lift patients anymore. She can’t stand for more than 4 hours at a time.

“Basically my whole right side was broken, and it’s simply because of my ignorance. I’m not Superman. I couldn’t put my foot down in time.”

Sleeping passenger with feet on the dashboard woke to unimaginable horror

But there’s really no way Tatum could have reacted any faster, as airbags can deploy at 1/20 of a second. And in another tragic instance, a 22-year-old couldn’t have considered reacting at all because she was asleep.

In August 2010, Bethany Benson was a passenger riding home to Ontario after a Michigan trip with her boyfriend. Her feet were stretched out on the dashboard. As she slept, the car smashed into a tractor-trailer, crumpling the car’s entire front end.

The air bag pressure threw Benson’s legs upward through the windshield. She suffered a cracked eye socket and cheekbone as well as extensive broken bones in her feet, which are now two sizes smaller and require orthotics. She has hearing and vision difficulties. And a brain bleed left her with the mental capacity of a 13-year-old.

Got your seat belt on? With feet on the dashboard, it still won’t help

Even though Benson had her seat belt on (Tatum did not), that was no deterrent from the ordeal she faced. That’s because if you’re in a lounging position — as you would be with feet on the dashboard — you’re not fully and properly restrained by the seat belt.

Air bags work in conjunction with the seat belts, which keep people at a safe distance when the air bags deploy. As the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration notes:

“No air bags — even advanced frontal air bags — can be designed to handle every situation. Air bags can still cause serious injury or death to occupants who are not properly restrained and in the proper seating position.

Whether you’re a driver or passenger, seat belts are designed for sitting upright, with your back and feet in the proper spot and the seatbelt across your shoulder. Putting your feet on the dashboard compromises that safety measure, leaving you more at risk for injuries like Tatum and Benson suffered.

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