After I started driving as a teen, and into my 20s, I had a horrible habit I didn’t even realize was dangerous. Whenever I was driving, I’d put my foot up on the seat so my knee was bent. It was a way for me to stretch out on my long commute to work, and felt so much better than just having my foot on the floor. The problem was that my knee was smack dab in front of the airbag.
And if I was a passenger, my feet would always end up on the dashboard while I read, which is even worse.
I never put two and two together until someone told me how dangerous this was. Because airbags deploy at between 100 and 220 miles per hour, if you’re in an accident, you could end up with broken legs — or worse. Last year Tennessee’s Chattanooga Fire Department warned that driving with your feet on the dash could “send your knees through your eye sockets” in the event of a crash.
It was a hard habit to break, but worth it.
After that, then hearing about some of the horrific things that can happen if you do this, I freak out every time I see anyone without their feet on the floor in a moving vehicle. And if you look around, you see it a lot.
Now that my kids are older, and are big enough to sit in the front seat safely, I have to remind them to keep their feet on the floor constantly — long car trips are the worst. Of course, we all feel the need to shift around, but please, pretty please don’t put your feet up on the dashboard while being a passenger in the car.
Of course, you think you will be able to get your feet down in time. That’s after you tell yourself you won’t get into an accident in the first place, because really, what are the chances?
Audra Tatum told CBS News this is what happened to her. Her legs were crossed on the dash during a mere 4-mile drive to her parents’ house, and her car was struck. While the rest of her family walked away without being hurt, Tatum says, “Basically my whole right side was broken, and it’s simply because of my ignorance.”
Now she’s on a mission to warn everyone about the dangers of riding in the car with their feet on the dash.
“I’m not Superman. I couldn’t put my foot down in time,” Tatum told CBS.
Two years post-accident, and after many surgeries, she still struggles. Tatum isn’t able to stand for long periods at a time, or continue her career as an EMS.
I showed this story to my teenagers along with a few pictures of what can actually happen when you take this chance. It scared them and I not longer have to remind them to put their feet down.
Before long, they are going to be driving in cars with their friends, and getting into a fender bender is more likely to happen. If I can save them from this — something that is so preventable — it’s worth it to me to put a bit of fear in them.
Sometimes I still catch myself doing this — it feels good and natural to put our feet up, but save it for when you get home. Always, always keep your feet on the floor when you are in a vehicle whether you are the driver or the passenger.
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