Why You Should Think Twice Before Putting Your Feet On The Dashboard

The next time you go on a road trip, or even just hop in the passenger seat for a ride down the street, make sure to keep your feet planted firmly on the floor of the car. It may seem like a comfortable position to travel in, especially after sitting for several hours, but experts warn that placing your feet anywhere but flat on the floor mat could leave you with devastating injuries in the event of a car accident.

Airbags were first invented in the early 1950s, but didn't become a requirement in the U.S. until 1998 (via ThoughtCo.). The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that frontal airbags have saved over 50,000 lives between 1987 and 2017 (via NHTSA). Airbags are designed to work with seatbelts to keep your head and upper body from coming in contact with the inside of the vehicle during a crash. They can deploy in minor crashes, but most commonly only inflate if the crash is moderate or severe. If someone is not wearing a seatbelt and is too close to the airbag, or if a children is seated in the front seat, the force of the airbag deploying can cause injury or death. Even when adult passengers are wearing their seatbelt, airbags can be dangerous if the passenger isn't seated correctly.

Severe injury can result from airbag deployment

The speed of airbag deployment is between 100 and 220 miles per hour and the subsequent injuries can be severe. USA Today reports that a Georgia woman riding in the passenger seat of her car with legs crossed and one foot resting on the dashboard, was hit when a car suddenly pulled out in front of them. Her husband was unable to avoid the car and collided with it. Even though most of the impact occurred on the front driver's side of the vehicle, the passenger side airbag went off too, forcing the woman's foot to fly into her face. She broke her nose, arm, ankle, and femur, and has been left permanently disabled by the accident.

An airbag is "literally a fabric sack wrapped around an explosive," according to an expert at Auto Trader Canada (via Auto Trader). If your feet are resting on the dashboard when that explosive goes off, the bag could push them through the windshield, the roof, or even force your legs back into your pelvis or chest. And while airbag technology has changed a lot since it first came onto the scene, even more advanced frontal airbags are becoming widespread. These airbags have the ability to sense whether they should deploy, when to deploy, and how much force to use when deploying (via NHTSA). Still, the NHTSA recommends maintaining a safe distance from the airbag and keeping your feet positioned on the floor.