There are a variety of things that people do while in a car, whether they are the driver or passenger that they shouldn’t. For instance, we have personally witnessed someone reading a book while driving. Go across the pond and you will see even more reckless behaviour. In some countries in Italy, it is almost expected that drivers talk on their phone (with their hands of course) while drinking an espresso. We often discuss driving safety with the onus on the driver. However, passengers also play a role in ensuring safety on the road. For example, it is important for passengers to try their best not to distract the driver they are with by talking incessantly or insisting on blasting the music loudly. When you think about safety when driving one thing you might not think about is the dangers of resting your feet on the dashboard. This dangerous habit is the focus of our article today and we hope that you pay close attention and share with your friends.
We admit that there is nothing quite like the feeling of driving on the freeway with the windows open, feeling the wind in your hair. If you are a passenger it might be tempting to relax and put your feet up on the dashboard. However, you might not have considered just how dangerous this practice can be. I’m sure all of our parents warned us about how risky it could be, but parents tend to overreact to everything, don’t they? Seriously, what’s the worst that could happen? Well, for one, resting your feet upon the dashboard and being involved in a motor vehicle accident could kill you.
If you do survive, the results could be life changing and debilitating. For instance, one woman in Ireland named Grainne Kealy had her feet on the dashboard of her boyfriend’s Jeep when they were involved in a car accident due to black ice, which caused her knees to slam into her face at a rate of almost 200 kilometers per hour. The result? She was left without a forehead as it had to be removed by doctors and she was forced to undergo multiple facial reconstructive surgeries. She stated in an interview that, “I had nothing in place of my forehead. My head sunk in and I looked a little strange.” Luckily, she was fitted with a synthetic forehead but that was not until years later. However, unfortunately her mental functioning will never be the same. She reports to forget words when speaking to others, which has been known to occur up to 20 times in one day and often suffers from headaches when there is too much chatter around her, causing her to get distracted and lose her ability to focus.
The reason that resting your feet on the dashboard is so dangerous should be an obvious one, that is of course where air bags are located and when in a major accident, their job is to deploy so quickly that you do not have an opportunity to take your feet off of the dashboard. Within a matter of seconds your whole life could be changed forever, simply because you wished to have a more comfortable ride. According to a spokesperson fro the Chattanooga Fire Department, “Airbags deploy between 100 and 220 MPH. If you ride with your feet on the dash and you’re involved in an accident, the airbag may send your knees through your eye sockets.”
Another woman, named Audra Tatum from Georgia, did the same, even after being reminded of the dangers repeatedly by her husband and she insisted on sitting crossed leg with a foot resting on the dashboard. Sadly, she was left with a broken leg, arm, and nose almost instantly when another vehicle cut in front of their car resulting in a T-bone crash. It wasn’t until months later that she was able to start her journey to being able to walk again. In an interview with CBS news, she admitted that this was something that she did often, saying that “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.’” We just hope that the words “I told you so” have slipped his mouth.
She goes on to say that “Basically my whole right side was broken, and it was simply because of my ignorance. I am not Superman. I couldn’t put my foot down in time. I can’t do my career as an EMS. I can’t lift patients any more. I can’t stand more than four hours at a time. Once I am at that four-hour mark, I am in tears.” She admits that her life has gotten a lot harder and that it will never be the same.
Sadly, she lives in pain every day and is not able to enjoy things that she used to. Luckily, the other passengers in her car were mostly unharmed and they were only left to deal with minor injuries and scrapes. Although Tatum’s life might never be what it was, she hopes that she can make a difference by sharing her story and warning others of the dangers of resting your feet on the dashboard and being more mindful of the dangers of how you sit when you ride in the front passenger seat. According to Tatum, if her story saves at least one person from the horrific consequences of putting your feet up while driving shotgun, then that would be wonderful.
One last story is that of a woman from Ontario, Canada, named Bethany Benson. Like the other women mentioned above, Benson was in the passenger seat with her feet up on the dashboard when the car she was in was in a major accident. She has only been able to piece together exactly what happen from what others have told her. Unfortunately, the driver of the motorcyclist involved in this same accident lost his life, Benson’s then boyfriend who was driving required about one hundred stitches, and Benson was left with a broken eye socket, cheekbone, and nose as well as a dislocated jaw and two feet that were both compressed and broken. These injuries have left her with obvious side effects such as pain and having to relearn how to walk but also vision problems, hearing problems, and issues with memory and recall.
These neurological problems were the result of a serious bleeding in the brain. Benson, who was 22 at the time, was in the process of becoming a teacher with French and history as teachables. Sadly, the damage done to her brain meant that she was no longer able to pursue her dream of teaching. Not only did she have to totally relearn the French that she knew, she also had lost most of English, her mother tongue. Although she is high functioning, Benson lost a lot in that accident as well as a lot as a result of it including friendships now that she is no longer the same Bethany they had grown to love. For example, due to the bleed in her brain, she is now hypersensitive to sounds and is unable to go out to the bar like she used to enjoy doing with friends. Her personality also changed. According to her mother,
“I got back a different daughter. I lost a sweet 22-year-old who worked full-time and put herself through university. She was on a great path. I got a 13-year-old with anger issues.” She goes on, ““I have had to realize that my child will always live with me. We’ll have to find a house that affords us both some privacy and separation, but she is essentially a 13-year-old.” Overall, there were adjustments to be made all around. Moreover, both Bethany and her mother are upset that at Bethany’s boyfriend at the time, who was driving the car, was not charged since the accident was his fault.
Unfortunately, although it is clearly a definite health hazard to put your feet up on the dash, most states and countries do not have any specific laws against doing so. This is nothing short of shocking since the dangers are comparable to not driving with a seatbelt, which is of course against the law in most places. We can’t help but wonder if this practice was against the law less people would put themselves, and others, in danger. Hopefully someone with some power will read our article and help make chose changes, at least in their communities.
We hope that after reading our article you think twice and don’t put yourself in danger of having to go through what these women did simply for the sake of comfort. We also hope that you teach this very important lesson to your friends and family, especially teenagers who we all know often put looking cool over safety or even common sense (no offence to the teenagers reading it, we are basing this off of hard science so trust us).